A female teacher at one of South Africa’s most prestigious private schools had sex with multiple students, an investigation has found.
Fiona Viotti, 32, was a history teacher and water polo coach at Bishops Diocesan School in Cape Town when she engaged in “sexual misconduct” with at least five pupils, News24 reported. It is not known if any of the students were underage.
While the age of consent is 16 in South Africa, the investigation determined that Ms Viotti breached the school’s professional code of conduct for teaching staff, as well at the Code of Professional Ethics issued by the South African Council of Educators.
The independent investigation also alleged that the 32-year-old married teacher had been involved in a relationship with one of her 18-year-old students.
Sexually explicit content that allegedly involved Ms Viotti was uploaded to social media as well as pornographic websites, however, in a statement from the school on Monday (local time) investigators said they could not “ascertain with certainty to whom she had sent” the video or photographic images.
The statement, which was sent to News24, also stated that no disciplinary action would be taken against the now-former teacher as she had resigned in October when her alleged relationship with the 18-year-old student was made public by the news outlet.
"As a school we are deeply saddened by these events and remain committed to ensuring the mental health and wellbeing of those affected,” the school’s headmaster said in the statement.
Ms Viotti was a teacher at Bishops Diocesan School between 2013 and 2019.
Following her resignation from the school in early October, Cape Town’s Weekend Argus newspaper reported that the teacher had sent threatening messages to the 18-year-old student she had allegedly been having an inappropriate relationship with when he tried to break off their reported affair.
The teacher’s resignation from the prestigious school came as a sexually explicit video was reportedly posted to Pornhub. While the video has since been removed from the website, her lawyer William Booth told The New York Daily News that her own investigators were still working to “establish who posted it”.
“As far as the video and pictures are concerned, it’s a criminal offence to distribute such material or to allow it to be placed on a site without permission,” he told the Argus.
Mr Booth also took umbrage with the media’s reportage of the incident because it had dragged the teacher’s family into the scandal –– most notably her uncle who is a retired professional footballer in South Africa.
“The man has got nothing to do with the case and what happened to him is unfair. He is a well-known public figure and we will be taking legal action soon," Mr Booth said.
When the scandal hit headlines in October, Mr Booth said the allegations had taken a toll on his client’s health and she had been admitted to a psychiatric clinic.
An unidentified former colleague of the disgraced teacher told the Weekend Argus that Ms Viotti had been “a brilliant history teacher” but “abused her power”.
“She took water polo as a 24-year-old from zero to hero. 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 source said.
“The fact that the boys were of consenting age is immaterial.”
No criminal charges have been filed against Ms Viotti.
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