A female teacher at Bishops Diocesan College in Cape Town was found to have engaged in sexual misconduct with at least five pupils, but will not be disciplined because she resigned, the school said on Monday.
“As the teacher resigned from Bishops with immediate effect on the 11th October 2019, no disciplinary action can be taken against her by the school for these breaches,” said headmaster Guy Pearson in a statement.
The teacher, Fiona Viotti, resigned amid allegations of a relationship with an 18-year-old pupil on October 11 and the school later announced that several more pupils may have been involved.
It launched its own investigation via lawyers, while the initial male pupil and Viotti had their own legal representation.
In a statement on Monday, the school said Viotti opted to not make written submissions to the investigators after her resignation.
The main findings of the investigation are:
– During the period 2013 to 2019, and while employed as a teacher at the school, she engaged in sexual misconduct with at least five pupils
– The investigators were not able to ascertain with certainty to whom she had sent video or photographic images that circulated on social media
– No information was received by the investigators that indicated that the school knew anything about the sexual misconduct with pupils
– The investigators found that the teacher acted in breach of the Bishops Code of Professional Conduct for Teaching Staff and the Code of Professional Ethics issued by the SA Council of Educators (SACE).
It was reported to the principal on October 10, and Viotti resigned and left the school the following day.
Pearson said her lawyer indicated full cooperation in a letter.
“However, a request by the investigators for her to attend an interview with them was later refused. Furthermore, the investigators were informed that she was not prepared to make any written comments regarding the merits of the matter.”
Viotti’s counsel William Booth told News24 when the issue became public knowledge she was admitted for medical care. He also had to deal with getting a video that made its way to Porn Hub taken down.
The school opted to hold off on releasing the findings of the investigation so that there would not be disruptions for pupils doing their end of year exams. SACE held off for the same reason.
In Monday’s statement, Pearson said the investigators told the school they needed to report the matter to the “appropriate authorities” and were cooperating in this regard. The parents of the affected pupils have also been informed on their rights and responsibilities regarding the matter.
The investigators also reviewed the current policies in place at Bishops concerning teacher/pupil interaction and were satisfied that the school had the necessary policies and procedures in place to address matters of sexual misconduct and that the school has taken all reasonable steps in this regard.
“The school will consider all findings and recommendations made by the investigators to ensure that we continue to make Bishops a safe environment for all our pupils and teachers,” said Pearson.
In the meantime, any further information may still be sent to the principal, or to the attorney, Graeme Dorrington at email@example.com.
“As a school, we are deeply saddened by these events and remain committed to ensuring the mental health and wellbeing of those affected.”
No further details of the findings would be made available. Booth was not immediately available to comment on behalf of Viotti, but comments will be added when it is received.