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Rick Watkins: Ottawa Catholic Board launching review after St. Matthew High School longtime teacher charged with sex offences

April 24, 2021

Rick Watkins (Rick DESPATIE.)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ottawa Citizen reported that the Ottawa Catholic School Board is investigating how it handled earlier complaints made against St. Matthew High School teacher and coach Rick Watkins, who was charged with sexually assaulting students on Tuesday.

On 20 April, the Ottawa Police Service arrested 57 years old Watkins, of Ottawa and charged him with three counts of Sexual Assault, three counts of Sexual Interference and three counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Young Person.

According to police, all the alleged incidents are believed to happen between the fall of 2020 and March 2021 involving young girls under the ages of 14.

On Friday, Director of Education Thomas D’Amico conceded that other parents and students had said they complained about Despatie/Watkins in the past, but nothing was done.

“We heard from some former students and parents that allegations had been brought forward to the previous school administration, yet they did not act on these concerns,” said Director of Education Thomas D’Amico in a letter to parents, guardians and students of the school.

“Our Human Resources department staff has begun a review to determine if we failed to address these concerns. The third-party College of Teachers will also look at all the information related to these allegations and any previous complaints against the staff member.”

“On behalf of the Ottawa Catholic School Board, I apologize to any former students who have experienced harm by someone in a position of trust,” said D’Amico.

“No student in our care should be subjected to any type of harm, especially when attending their own school where so many staff work hard to create a safe and caring environment.”

D’Amico encourages anyone who previously reported information that they feel was not addressed to contact the Ottawa Catholic School Board’s Human Resources department.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.

If you have a complaint against Rick Watkins or are a victim of sexual assault in Ontario, please contact us. We can help.