Cape Town - The sex scandal rocking Bishops Diocesan College in Rondebosch has escalated into a full-blown investigation into possible sexual abuse of a number of pupils over several years by a 32-year-old female history teacher from a prominent Bishops teaching family.
The teacher’s behaviour allegedly includes sending a pupil a selfie, where she is just wearing skimpy lace panties, and sending seductive text messages.
The investigation is also probing reports that the teacher allegedly sent boys videos of her masturbating on a bed.
On Thursday, the teacher, who was also the sports/water polo coach, resigned following the disclosure that she had an inappropriate sexual relationship with an 18-year-old matric pupil. As a possible sexual abuse victim, he cannot be named.
But several emails sent to parents and pupils by headmaster Guy Pearson over the weekend appear to indicate that the teacher, whose uncle is a Springbok rugby icon, has been involved in numerous other relationships with several different boys.
An email sent to parents and Bishops’ boys by Pearson on Saturday alludes to alleged sexual abuse.
“You will be aware that one of our female teachers has been involved in inappropriate sexual behaviour with some of our boys,” read the mail after the story broke in Weekend Argus on Saturday.
“The teacher has left the school with immediate effect. Please understand that the boys are the victims in this, and we always need to respect their dignity and privacy. The investigation is ongoing and if you have any information which you would like to share with me, please feel free to come and see me or email me and I will contact you.
“Please understand that we know that the boys are not at fault and our role is to protect, help and support them as they need.”
In an earlier email Pearson said: “I am aware that there has been a lot of talk and speculation in the Bishops community and in the general public about the inappropriate behaviour of one of our teachers at the college.
“We are taking this very seriously. The teacher has resigned with immediate effect and we have appointed an independent attorney to undertake an investigation. We understand that there will be lots of questions, but please appreciate that it is a matter which needs to be managed with utmost sensitivity and I cannot share more information at this stage.”
A parent close to the matric boy who blew the whistle on the teacher said the relationship began as a consensual one. “He was a willing participant in the beginning. He became a victim when he couldn’t get out of the relationship. The teacher started texting him to come to her house on campus, and that’s how it started.
“But it got to the stage where he had enough and the teacher would not let him go and he went to his parents for help and they went to the headmaster.”
Several sources, including one close to the matric pupil, allege he was not the teacher’s only sexual interest. “This has apparently been going on for about six years. That’s why the headmaster is asking for other boys to come forward.”
The accused teacher, who has been married for just over a year, left her campus residence on Thursday and is believed to have gone into hiding.
It is believed that she had flown to the UK and her husband had travelled to friends on the West Coast.
She did not reply to questions on WhatsApp. Although the teacher has closed her Facebook page, photographs of her with Bishops water polo teams are still live on school websites.
One of the sites also still features her wedding photograph.
The family of the accused teacher has taught at the school for two generations. Her father is still a teacher at the school.
In a humiliating moment at the matric prize-giving on Friday, he was seated on stage before a hall of 1000 boys and parents who already knew he was the father of the accused teacher. Then, to make matters worse, the matric boy at the centre of the scandal had to walk past him to receive a prize.
“The teacher was stern-faced and the boy was as white as a sheet,” said one parent.
Another person described the moment as humiliating.
“It shouldn’t have happened. All the boys in the hall knew about his relationship with the teacher. It must have been shaming for him.”
Through a spokesperson, his family have requested that their privacy be respected. “They are still trying to come to terms with what has happened and assist their son in preparing for his matric exams in two weeks’ time. They have nothing further to say about the matter, which is being fully investigated by the school.”
The accused teacher’s family have appointed leading criminal law attorney William Booth to represent them. He cautioned the media not to disclose identities.
“I advise that it will be irregular to print any names of those allegedly involved in this incident or the names of any family members. The privacy of all must be respected during the school’s investigation, as the matter is clearly sub judice.”
However, the police confirmed that no case had yet been opened.
“This office has no record of a case relating to the incident you are referring to,” said media spokesperson Colonel Andrè Traut.