Cape Town - Bishops school, in Rondebosch, has reported former teacher Fiona Viotti to the police for her alleged sexual misconduct with at least five pupils since 2013.
Bishops principal Guy Pearson confirmed this in a letter to Viotti’s lawyer, William Booth.
“The school was advised of certain reporting obligations which it has in terms of the SA Council for Educators’ code of professional ethics and The Criminal law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act, 32 of 2007), with which the school complied and in terms of which the school is co-operating with the relevant authorities,” wrote Pearson.
This was one of the outcomes of Bishops Diocesan College’s independent investigation of Viotti’s alleged sexual misconduct, conducted by seasoned advocate Francois van Zyl and attorney Graeme Dorrington. They produced a detailed report which is now in the hands of the police. Bishops, however, is “not prepared” to accede to Booth’s request for a copy.
Although Pearson’s letter doesn’t specify the scope of the report’s allegations, reliable sources say Viotti could be prosecuted for the sexual grooming of the pupils with whom she allegedly had sex. This was corroborated by another informed source who said the matter was being handled by the commanding officer of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit in the Western Cape, Brigadier Sonja Harri.
The bombshell revelation for Viotti, who is still receiving psychological counselling, comes a week after husband Pavo divorced her. Booth confirmed the divorce, saying it was not opposed by Fiona, who has strong historical ties to Bishops. Her father, Dave Mallett, still teaches there and her grandfather, Anthony Mallet, was headmaster between 1964 and 1982.
Pearson’s strongly worded letter was a response to an email he received from Booth on Friday which challenged the principal’s allegation in his December 2 media statement that Viotti was guilty of sexual misconduct. The statement was released following the completion of Van Zyl and Dorrington’s investigation.
Although Pearson’s statement did not name Viotti, it was clearly referring to the history teacher and water polo coach who dramatically resigned in mid-October when her alleged serial sex-with-pupils past finally caught up with her. Viotti’s undetected double life at Bishops started in 2013 and involved sex with at least five pupils. She allegedly had sex with them in her classroom and her campus residence, according to a source who asked to remain anonymous.
According to Booth, Viotti had “consensual” sex with her pupils, who in fact were the perpetrators of “a very serious crime”. For distributing naked images of Viotti on social media, which had caused her “irreparable harm”, they should be punished by both Bishops and the law, which carried a maximum sentence of four years’ imprisonment.
Booth added that Bishops should also advise Viotti as to what action would be taken against the five pupils “whom our client allegedly engaged with in sexual conduct”.
“It would seem that such sexual conduct between Ms Viotti and any of the said pupils was consensual it would seem that none of the said pupils were forced or cajoled or threatened to engage in any form of alleged sexual conduct with our client.”
Pearson called Booth’s “attempt to portray his client as the victim disingenuous, to say the least”. He explained: “It is a matter of common sense that where a teacher engages in sexual relations with learners (at the same school) it is clearly sexual misconduct. The Code of Professional Ethics issued by the SA Council for Educators specifically states in clause 3.10 that no educator may have sexual relationships with any learner.
“Furthermore it prohibits the exposing of pornographic material to any learner in clause 3.11. This is the factual basis for the finding of sexual misconduct. There were at least five boys involved. Your client admitted to me, in the presence of a witness, that she had sex with four learners. The investigators found prima facie evidence of sexual interaction with a fifth learner.”
Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa confirmed that the head of the Western Cape Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit had been in contact with Bishops. “However the SAPS has yet to initiate an investigation as no official complaint has been laid with the police.”