Former North York teacher accused of sexually abusing students
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Monday, February 29, 2016 7:00AM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 29, 2016 1:04PM EST
A former North York elementary school teacher is facing several charges after police say three former students came forward with allegations of sexual abuse.
An investigation was launched in December 2015 after investigators say the man was allegedly found viewing images of child pornography on a public computer at the Employment and Social Service Centre at Lawrence Square.
After executing a search warrant at the suspect’s home, police allege that images of child pornography were found in his possession and charges were laid.
Upon further investigation, police say it came to light that the man had been a teacher and an office administrator at various Toronto private schools over the last 30 years. Investigators say there is some indication that staff at at least one of the schools where he was employed had been aware of allegations that he was sexually inappropriate with some of his students.
Investigators say the suspect, identified as 55-year-old Stephen Joseph Schacter, had worked as a primary school teacher at the Eitz Chaim schools between 1986 and 2004, an office administrator at the United Synagogue Day School between 2004 and 2006 and also worked as a teaching assistance for grades 1 and 2 students at Pleasant Avenue Public School in 2004.
He also worked as a private tutor from 2009 to 2011, police say.
According to investigators, media coverage of the case prompted three complainants to come forward with allegations of sexual abuse stemming from incidents that allegedly took place in the 1980s and 1990s.
“It is alleged that Mr. Schacter had ready access to these children as a result of his teaching positions and his status in the community,” Det.-Const. Joel Manherz told reporters at a news conference Monday morning.
“I believe there are victims that have come forward to the schools who have made reports to them and that those are not the victims we have identified so far.”
He encouraged any other possible victims to “find the courage” to come forward.
“Some victims may believe that what happened to them will have no impact on the case, but that is simply not true. There is power in numbers,” Manherz said.
The investigator claims that staff at Eitz Chaim may have been made aware of allegations against the teacher at the time of the alleged assaults but he stopped short of accusing the school of any wrong-doing.
“That’s not for me to comment. I think some of the schools are worried about the litigious society we work in so not all of them probably did what they should have. But that is probably all I should say about that,” Manherz said.
He added that legislation, which did not exist at the time, now requires school officials to contact police when these types of allegations are made.
“Certainly in this day and age, it’s all about accountability and the first thing people should be doing is calling police when they get allegations like this.”
Schacter, who was arrested on Feb. 24, is facing one count of gross indecency, two counts of sexual assault, one count of sexual exploitation and one count of sexual interference.