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Collège Bourget staff member charged with sexual contact with a student

Students and teachers at a prestigious private school in Rigaud are reeling after learning a staff member may have had a six-month-long relationship with an underage student that ended last March.

Last Friday, Rigaud resident Mathieu Chamberland, 40, was charged in the Valleyfield courthouse with sexual contact with a girl under the age of consent, inciting sexual contact with someone who is under age, and luring her. He is an educator and support staff member, and is married to an administrator at Collège Bourget, 70 kilometres west of Montreal, near Ontario.

Although the relationship was apparently consensual, the legal age of consent in Quebec is 16. The student was 15 during the time the relationship is alleged to have occurred.

The school’s general manager, Jean-Marc St-Jacques explained the girl told a friend about the relationship during the holiday period, and that friend in turn told an adult. When the school found out last week, it called police and the department of youth protection. Chamberland was arrested last Thursday.

St-Jacques said news about Chamberland spread like wildfire on Facebook among the students on Monday, so staff and councillors at the school held several sessions with students to explain what happened. He said the school already has instruction about sexual education and intimidation as part of its curriculum, but in light of the incident, he’s wondering whether that instruction needs to be re-evaluated.

“This is why we’re asking if our training is adequate,” St-Jacques said. “How can it be that an adult and a young girl had something between them and nobody saw it? How can we avoid this?

“We want students to know, if they see something, they have to get involved to help the child.”

The school, which is both an elementary and high school, suspended Chamberland over the duration of his court procedures.

Chamberland was released from jail last Friday and ordered not to be employed in any job where he is an authority figure over underage children. He is also forbidden to use a computer or to access the Internet.

This is Collège Bourget’s second staff member in less than a year to be arrested for sexual impropriety towards minors. Last July, former teacher Jean-Guy Corbeil, 76, who taught at the school for two years, was charged with possession of and accessing child pornography. The arrest came two weeks after the school decided not to renew his teaching contract. Corbeil taught Grade 11 courses in introduction to philosophy and advanced French. At the time of his arrest, the school’s administration said it was not aware of the allegations. He is scheduled to appear in court to answer to the charges next Monday at the Montreal Courthouse.

He was charged with accessing child pornography between Jan. 1, 2005, and July 11, 2012. He was also charged with having child pornography in his possession between July 8 and July 11, 2012.

Collège Bourget, which was established in 1850, has 1,100 day students and 250 boarders. Many students come from French-speaking Africa and Latin America.

jmagder@montrealgazette.com
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