The Gazette, November 1, 2000
Ninth pupil adds charge-- Educator admits to another victim
By Mike King
David Wadsworth admitted yesterday to sexually assaulting a ninth former elementary school pupil.
The latest charge against the once highly respected educator surprised spectators who were there to hear sentencing arguments for Wadsworth.
He entered guilty pleas in June to charges of sexual assault and gross indecency against eight other of his young students between 1979 and 1986.
Prosecutor Marie-Chantal Doucet told Quebec Court Judge Odette Perron that Wadsworth, 45, and his lawyer were advised of the new charge about one month ago.
Doucet then went on to give previously unheard details of the abuse the victims said they suffered at the hands of Wadsworth.
In all the cases, she said he used the same tactic - giving the children a choice of being disciplined by him or having their parents told they had misbehaved.
The punishment was usually a spanking he would administer on their bare behinds, "always in an empty classroom with the curtains closed and the door locked," Doucet said.
On occasion, however, the victims - eight boys and one girl - were ordered to masturbate Wadsworth or to also spank his bare bottom, Doucet said.
Reading from the statement of one man who was 8 when the abuse began in 1983, Doucet said the teacher twice had the pupil perform oral sex on another boy while the teacher watched.
Another statement said a Grade 3 student was warned that he could be put up for adoption if Wadsworth told the boy's parents that he was caught copying notes in class.
Not only did the child succumb to the threat and punishment, including being struck on the bare buttocks with a stick, but he also recalled being forced to spank a fellow student in front of Wadsworth.
The only female victim, an 8-year-old, said in her statement that Wadsworth sometimes touched her genital area during the spankings; made her spank him after he had stripped naked; had her hold his erection and slap it with her other hand; and asked her to tie his hands before spanking him, which she refused to do.
The abuse continued even during the summer break when Wadsworth phoned the girl's mother at home and asked that the child come and help him get the classroom ready.
She was made to go by her mother.
The woman wrote about her nightmares and not wanting to go to school, then later in life having difficulty trusting men and disciplining her own child.
Doucet recommended that Perron send Wadsworth to prison for six years and prohibit him from being alone with children for the rest of his life.
"The victims had to live for years with a heavy secret," the prosecutor stressed. "After years, they had to tell about what they lived through 20 years ago to parents, partners and their own children."
She noted that most of the victims have had therapy in recent years.
Doucet said Wadsworth deserves a lengthy sentence for the type of acts he committed, the age of his victims and the duration of the abuse - which varied from two to five years.
Defence lawyer Salvatore Mascia argued for a two-year sentence, saying his client's highly publicized case has caused humiliation.
"His life is asunder," Mascia said. "He has nothing left."
Wadsworth addressed the court briefly, apologizing to his victims "for the damage I've done to their lives" and "to their parents who trusted me. I betrayed their trust."
The confessed pedophile, fighting back tears, also apologized "to my family, friends and colleagues for the pain and hurt I've caused them."
His only female victim, now 29, said outside the courtroom that Wadsworth deserves "20 years (imprisonment) for each child or more."
Responding to Mascia's contention that Wadsworth never inflicted any physical harm on the children, the woman countered: "His lawyer said there was no bruising, but there was mental bruising."
At the request of Doucet, Perron ordered Wadsworth held in custody until she hands down her sentence Nov. 15.
In September, he was given a 90-day conditional sentence in Montreal municipal court for possessing child pornography in a different case.