Cape Town - The history teacher and water polo coach at the centre of the sex scandal rocking Bishops Diocesan College was the victim of a sexual misconduct incident at the elite school in 2017.
This emerged in the same week that the teacher, Fiona Viotti, 32, was admitted to a top Cape Town psychiatric clinic while Bishops, in Rondebosch, began its official inquiry into sexual misconduct allegations made against her.
The inquiry is being led by attorney Graeme Dorrington and the highly respected senior advocate, Francois van Zyl, best known by the public for his successful defence of honeymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani.
Last week, Bishops was rocked by the revelation that Viotti had immediately resigned after her alleged sexual relationship with a matric pupil was exposed. That was followed by three more boys admitting to alleged sexual relationships with Viotti.
The boys are between 17 and 18 years old and the first incident dates back to 2015.
Reliable sources say seven victims have been identified and more could come forward as the inquiry progresses.
In an ironic twist to the scandal, it has now been revealed by several reliable sources that Viotti also reported to headmaster Guy Pearson a sexual proposition emailed to her by two Grade 11 boys.
The boys used Viotti’s Facebook photos to compile the proposition and then hacked into the Bishops internal mailing system to mail it to her, using the identity of another pupil.
“The boys behind the sexual proposition and the identity theft were exposed and suspended for a whole term,” revealed a reliable source.
The allegations against Viotti have shocked everyone, most of all her father, Dave Mallett, a house master and long-time history teacher at the school.
“He was especially close to Fiona, whose behaviour he does not recognise,” said a source close to him.
And a (former) senior colleague of Viotti’s said of her: “She was a brilliant history teacher. At 30 she was appointed assistant house director.
“This is the tragedy. That teacher who was good at what she did abused her power. The fact that the boys were of consenting age is immaterial.
“She held power over them and the boys were her victims, and everyone at the school needs to be sensitive to that.
“All the boys who have come forward are shattered and shamed, and so are their families. There is a lot of hurt at Bishops.”
Another former colleague echoed similar sentiments: “Fiona was widely regarded as a thoroughly professional teacher. She never had any disciplinary problems, her classroom worked like clockwork and the boys knew exactly where they stood with her.
“She was a model teacher and there was not a whisper of gossip about inappropriate behaviour, so I still can’t believe this. We are still shocked.”
Mallett’s attorney, William Booth, confirmed his client’s admission but would not reveal the clinic’s location.
“My client has sought counselling and is under medical care,” he said. “I request that her and her family’s privacy and dignity be respected and that Bishops be allowed to complete their investigation.
“Furthermore, I ask that the family not be constantly contacted by the media for comment as this is a very emotionally trying time for them.”