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Scarborough teacher faces 42 charges involving sexual assault, sexual exploitation, assault

Grant Bowers, legal counsel for the TDSB (centre) addresses reporters at Toronto District School Board headquarters March 27, 2013 in connection with news of sexual assault charges against a teacher.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

A Scarborough elementary-school teacher charged with multiple sex offences involving children has taught at five Toronto schools and all have been apprised of the situation, Toronto District School Board officials said Thursday.

Christian Kpodjie, 53, who taught French in grades 4, 5 and 6 at Inglewood Heights Junior Public School, faces a total of 42 charges, involving sexual assault, sexual exploitation and assault.

Police say the investigation dates back to last year when complaints were first received, and all the alleged offences took place at Inglewood, where he has worked since September.

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In addition to alleged physical assaults, Mr. Kpodjie is accused of making sexually charged remarks to children under his care.

In all, 30 different children have stepped forward with allegations about him, board lawyer Grant Bowers told a news scrum at TDSB headquarters.

Mr. Kpodjie surrendered to police Wednesday, made a short court appearance the same day and has been suspended by the TDSB.

School principal Sheryl Robinson Petrazzini sent a letter to parents Wednesday evening telling them that Inglewood is co-operating with police and that Mr. Kpodjie will not be back in the classroom before the criminal charges have been dealt with.

Parents have been invited to a meeting in the school gym next week, where they will be able to ask questions.

The allegations were initially made to the school, which then got in touch with police, said David Johnston, senior manager of professional support services for the board.

"We feel the pain of the community as well as students and staff," Mr. Johnston told reporters.

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"If there is any good news for us it is that the students trust us and are willing to come forward knowing that we are going to accept what they have to say and take it forward."

The four other schools where Mr. Kpodjie taught are Humberwood Downs Junior Middle Academy in Etobicoke in 2008; Derrydown Public School in North York in 2009; Chester Le Junior Public School in Scarborough in 2010; and Gateway Public School in East York in 2012.

So far, however, the charges all involve Inglewood.

"A letter is going out today to the school communities of those other four schools advising them of the arrest, the fact that he was there in that particular year and that they're welcome to attend the school community meeting on Tuesday night at Inglewood," Mr. Bowers said.

Mr. Kpodjie first acquired his teaching credentials at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, in 1998. He was certified by the Ontario College of Teachers in 2007, and has been in "good standing" with the college since then.

Only about 18 per cent of newly certified teachers in 2011 studied outside the country, according to data from the Ontario College of Teachers. Of those, 11 per cent were Canadians who completed their teacher education elsewhere, mostly in border colleges in New York state, and then sought teacher certification in Ontario.

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The rest were new Canadians who studied in other countries, immigrated to Canada and became certified to teach in Ontario.

With a report from Caroline Alphonso

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