‘I felt scared,’ Ottawa teen tells court of St. Matt teacher’s advances


When young girls at St. Matthew Catholic High School wanted help in math class, disgraced teacher Rick Despatie, 58, made them sit by his desk only to subject them to unwanted touching, from rubbing thighs to edge of their uniform skirts. , to back rubs and even a hair-raising attempt at footsies.

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This account of a teacher treating 13-year-olds like sex objects in class was revealed in the police interview of a teenager shown in court Monday at Despatie’s sex crimes trial. The veteran teacher and celebrity basketball coach is on trial for 14 sexual offenses against four girls.


In the police interview, the 13-year-old girl said she had heard bad stories about Despatie but then it happened to her and she was scared. The first time she felt awkward was when she handed in an exam at her desk. She kept looking at the girl’s chest, then at her face, she said.

“I felt scared,” she told the detective.

After class, she told a friend about it, and her friend told her, “I’m used to it.”

The brave girl told her friend that she should never have to get used to that, of all things.

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The girl detailed unwanted contact from a trusted position at a school, of all places, and said Despatie once tried to play games with her. She jammed her feet into the back of the desk chair legs to avoid the teacher’s advances.

The teacher also rubbed her shoulders and thighs, sometimes at the same time, in class, she told the detective. Then, in gym class, Despatie would have the girls lead warm-ups and, after instructing them to do jumping jacks, she would look at the girls’ chests, the girl told police.

She also heard from friends that Despatie looked at her “butt” when she worked out in gym class.

Despatie, who recently changed his last name to Watkins, is out on bail pending trial. She is not allowed to contact whistleblowers and is banned from swimming pools and parks or anywhere children hang out.

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He is also prohibited from working with children, or even volunteering with them, according to his bail conditions.

Despatie no longer works at the Orleans institute.

When the sex crime charges were published last year, the Catholic school board said: “No student in our care should be harmed in any way, especially when attending their own school, where so many staff work hard to create a safe environment. safe and caring environment.”

The board and Ontario Teachers College said last year that each is investigating how those complaints were handled and why Despatie was allowed to continue teaching.

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