A former Chilliwack teacher accused of sexually assaulting two students in 2010 had been told to stop touching students multiple times years before he was charged with a crime, according to information published by the Ministry of Education's Teacher Regulation Branch.
Charges of sexual assault and sexual interference against Jason Epp were dropped on Aug. 31, 2011 when Crown counsel concluded it was unlikely he would have been convicted if his case had gone to trial.
But Epp, a former Grade 2 teacher at Sardis elementary, has since admitted to professional misconduct in an agreement with the Teacher Regulation Branch.
The Consent Resolution Agreement, a voluntary agreement signed by Epp, covers incidents that involved him touching students at Sardis elementary between 2002 and 2009.
School district staff first talked to Epp about establishing "clear and acceptable boundaries regarding personal space" on July 2, 2003, the agreement states, after he had been observed during the school year sitting with students on his lap, holding their hands and-on three occasions-"rubbing the shoulders and arms of a student standing in close proximity to the front of his body while he was seated."
Just over four months later, after his school principal saw him seated with his arm around a student's waist, the district wrote Epp a letter directing him to avoid all physical contact with students unless he needed to intervene to ensure their physical safety.
He was again seen holding a student's hand in April 2004, and on May 3, 2005 he was directed by the district to "avoid inappropriate physical contact with students."
Four years later he was observed in his Grade 2 class in a chair with a group of students clustered closely around him.
"Epp had his right hand on the buttocks of a student for several seconds, apparently to redirect the student," the agreement states.
Epp has agreed the incidents constitute professional misconduct, and he has agreed to the cancellation of his teaching certificate.
He has also agreed not to re-apply for a new certificate for six years.
Charges of sexual interference and assault were laid against Epp in May of 2010 on the basis of interviews with two Sardis elementary students.
Mounties conducted a comprehensive investigation that included roughly 130 interviews with students, parents and staff members.
Police also interviewed all children in Epp's Grade 2 classes in the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years.
After reviewing the evidence, however, Crown counsel Wendy van Tomgeren-Harvey asked for a stay of proceedings and all charges against Epp were dropped.
But his case remained active before the nowdefunct B.C. College of Teachers, and its successor, the Teacher Regulation Branch, both of which have a different standard of proof from the courts.
"We are able to continue to consider the person's licence, and whether they should keep it or not, regardless of the outcome of a criminal case," BCCT registrar Kit Krieger told the Times in 2011.
After concluding an investigation launched in May 2012, the commissioner of the Teacher Regulation Branch proposed a Consent Resolution Agreement to Epp in July 2013. He signed it on Aug. 14, and won't be eligible to apply for a new teaching certificate until July 31, 2019.
© Copyright 2013