A former Midland high school teacher engaged in “grooming, predatory” behaviour while teaching “vulnerable” students over the course of two school years.
During a lengthy hearing Thursday afternoon, an Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) disciplinary panel found Kevin Mark Morphet guilty of professional misconduct, sexual abuse and sexual misconduct related to several incidents that occurred while he was teaching at Midland Secondary School (Georgian Bay District Secondary School) over the course of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years.
Morphet did not attend Thursday’s hearing due to a “scheduling conflict with his new employment,” according to his counsel, Angela Zhu, noting her client now works in the manufacturing sector.
As a result of the finding, Morphet will receive a formal reprimand and his teaching certificate will be revoked.
In a joint submission presented by Zhu and OCT counsel Jordan Glick, Morphet pleaded no contest to the allegations.
“Mr. Morphet has no desire to prolong this process,” Zhu said, noting Morphet also opted not to put his former "students on the stand" as would have occurred had he contested the allegations.
“(This) does not constitute an admission of guilt.”
Glick, however, said Morphet was effectively “grooming” students through highly inappropriate physical contact and/or touching of a sexual nature and seemed to target students undergoing “personal trauma,” including those with difficult home lives.
“It’s disgraceful, dishonourable and unprofessional,” said Glick, who then went on to outline close to a dozen incidents for the three-person panel led by chair Emile Ramlochan.
The incidents included “touching and/or playing with the hair of one or more female students; touching, massaging, and/or caressing the shoulder(s), thigh(s), waist, buttocks, back, and/or knee(s) of more than one female students as well as hugging one or more students, kissing a student on the forehead and holding a student’s hand."
Morphet, who started teaching in 2003 and retired this past June, taught communications (photography and videography) and coached girls volleyball at the school during the time of the incidents.
The "agreed statement of facts" presented to the panel by Glick noted Morphet made inappropriate comments to a number of Grade 10 and 11 students, including but not limited to: “telling one or more female students, 'I love you,' and telling one or more female students that they were beautiful, cute, and/or 'built nicely'."
But, perhaps, the most glaring, according to Glick, were three separate incidents, including one where Morphet ran his hand along a student’s bra line, down her back and placed a finger in the back waistband of her leggings “and told her ‘she better watch out'.”
Glick noted Morphet engaged in “predatory” behaviour and also told one student she wore “skanky clothes.” The girl later disclosed that she had been kicked out of her home.
Glick noted Morphet also asked a female student whether she would like him to put a pole in the middle of a table so she could dance for the class.
“He was objectifying her sexually as an exotic dancer or stripper,” Glick said, noting Morphet told another student that “if you worked at the corner in Port (McNicoll), you could make a lot of money.”
“The member (Morphet) made many inappropriate comments,” Glick said, noting these kinds of comments were intended to lessen the already vulnerable students’ self-esteem.
“It’s demeaning, it’s suggestive, it’s sexual, psychological and emotional abuse.”
Another student was admonished by Morphet for being late to class and explained that she had to change after playing volleyball.
“Lose some weight and your clothes won’t be so tight,” Glick said Morphet told the girl.
From the outset, Glick said the joint submission was the result of extensive negotiations between the two parties.
“The evidence is overwhelming and not a surprise the member was willing to acknowledge this statement of facts,” Glick said.
Morphet received a warning letter from the Simcoe District County School Board in the spring of 2018, advising him that he was expected to have no hands-on or physical contact with any student.
The following June, Morphet received a five-day suspension without pay and was required to undergo professional boundary training. He was placed on paid leave on Jan. 23, 2019 and suspended by the board that June, according to Glick.