Students struggle with suicide of accused teacher
Published Sunday, October 4, 2009 7:11PM EDT
Teachers at a Toronto school are preparing to handle difficult questions from students Monday morning after a teacher committed suicide while facing four sex-related charges from his time as a camp counsellor.
David Dewees, 32, laid down on the subway tracks in front of an oncoming train shortly after 8 a.m. Saturday at High Park station, to the horror of a number of onlookers.
Dewees, a teacher at Jarvis Collegiate, was arrested last Thursday and charged with two counts of invitation to sexual touching and two counts of luring. He was suspended from the school when the charges came to light.
He had been released on $25,000 bail after a court appearance on Friday under orders not to go onto the Internet and to stay away from children.
"This is unexpected and very troubling news for staff and students," said Andrea Alimi, a superintendent at the Toronto District School Board.
The school board is bringing in social workers and psychologists to help students handle the death.
More than 300 people have joined a Facebook group in his memory started by students at the school.
Many expressed sadness and anger and left positive comments saying Dewees was a funny, inspirational teacher who managed to make even dull subjects interesting.
Toronto police alleged Dewees befriended two boys under the age of 16 when he was a counselor at the Ontario Pioneer Camp in Port Sydney, and had inappropriate contact with them over the Internet between July 2008 and July 2009.
Dewees had volunteered at the Christian camp, which is located southwest of Huntsville, since 1997.
He had taught Latin and English to Grade 10 students at Jarvis Collegiate since 2003. None of the charges were related to contact with students at the school.
The TTC says suicide is a sensitive issue and they will not reveal how many people end their lives in the TTC system every year.
The system does work with hospitals and grief counselors to help traumatized employees who witness a suicide.
The new Spadina subway extension will have necessary equipment needed in case the TTC wants to install barriers preventing people from committing suicide on the tracks, but barriers could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Police tell CTV that Dewees' death is still considered an active investigation and are forwarding all calls to the Sex Crimes Unit.