CAPE TOWN – The lawyer representing a former Bishops College teacher accused of sexual misconduct believes there are no grounds to lay charges against her.
An independent investigation has found Fiona Viotti targeted at least five pupils.
She resigned in October amid the scandal. Viotti declined to be questioned as part of the independent probe.
Viotti’s lawyer, William Booth, said they did not have a guarantee from the school that whatever would emerge in the interview would be kept confidential.
“She was under medical treatment and counselling at the time.”
Booth added at the time the controversy came to light, Viotti was being treated for her emotional state.
“She was taken up in a clinic and it involved her emotional state, as a result of this whole incident.”
He said he wrote to the school to express his disappointment for not receiving the investigation findings personally.
When the scandal broke, Bishops appointed a senior advocate and an attorney to investigate the claims.
They found the school had no knowledge of Viotti’s actions, but their report reveals the boy who came forward was one of at least five whom the teacher targeted.
In a statement released on Monday morning, Bishops said because the teacher resigned, no disciplinary action could be taken against her. However, the school committed to working with authorities.
The school is one of the nation’s leading boys’ schools and one of the most expensive.
Investigators Advocate Francois van Zyl and attorney Graeme Dorrington emphasised their findings were based on information obtained during interviews.
The probe could not determine to who exactly the teacher sent photographs and videos of herself, which were of a sexual nature.
In the statement, Bishops said it was cooperating with authorities.
“The investigators have informed the school of their duty to report to the appropriate authorities. The school is cooperating with the authorities in this regard. The school has also made the parents of the affected boys aware of their rights and responsibilities in this matter.”
The investigators carried out a review of current policies in place at Bishops concerning teacher and pupil interaction and were satisfied that the school does have 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.
These are the key findings and recommendations of the investigation:
- During the period 2013 to 2019, and whilst 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, as circulating on social media.
- No information was received by the investigators that indicated that the school knew anything about the sexual misconduct with pupils. The Principal was first notified on 10 October 2019.
- 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 South African Council of Educators.
- As the teacher resigned from Bishops with immediate effect on 11 October 2019, no disciplinary action can be taken against her by the school for these breaches.