St Johns Catholic High School teacher, Jeff Peters, was charged in 2019 with sexual assault of students, to which he plead guilty on April 29, 2021. Peters is now serving a 3.5-year prison sentence. The muted response from the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) and the high school has left the community of this small rural town (an hour outside Ottawa) enraged.
Principal of the high school allegedly emailed teachers with instructions to remove students from class if they or their parents raised questions about the situation with Peters. A petition has been signed by over 10000 people calling on a full public inquiry into the handling of this convicted child sex offender Petition · CDSBEO: Immediate Investigation into Teachers Supporting Convicted Sex Offender Jeff Peters · Change.org
In a town with a population of around 6000, getting enough people to sign a petition like this speaks volumes about the anger and disappointment of the community regarding the school’s handling of the situation. On top of that, it was revealed by students on social media that teachers at the school threw a “going away” party at a cottage for Peters days before he plead guilty to sexual assault of a former student and sexual exploitation of another as confirmed by InsideOttawaValley, the local newspaper in the area.
This led to a student “walk-out” or “log-out” in which students left online classes to protest the silence from the school board and the school regarding the going away party. Email allegedly sent from the vice-principal to staff told them not to talk about the party or Peters other than to say it was not a school sanctioned event. The CDSBEO only released a statement about the conviction and charges against Peters after the cottage party was revealed; they did not acknowledge the party, nor answer any questions.
There was also alleged photos with notes on them from former students in Peters’ classroom that students took photos of, and were allegedly told by staff to delete the pictures. “Staff told these students to be quiet about what they found and to delete the photos. Months later someone told the student that those photos should have been used as evidence” a concerned parent wrote online. This publication at the time of this writing was unable to get copies of these photos to confirm their authenticity, however InsideOttawavalley was able to confirm the existence of such a photo wall inside his classroom.
“It’s disgusting that the teachers who threw this party are still working at this school.” said a victim on a Facebook post. “The school hasn’t said anything. Students are being kicked out from class for talking about it.”