Teachers and scout leaders are among the 13 suspects rounded up this week when police busted an alleged sophisticated pedophile ring based in Quebec.Claude Paquette, who was charged Thursday with the production, possession and distribution of child pornography, has been teaching Grade 3 students at a French primary school on Nuns’ Island since November, 2015.
Paquette, 31, was immediately suspended with pay when school officials learned of his arrest, said Barbara Blondeau, head of communications at the Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeois.She said Paquette also had a six-month teaching contract in 2013, but noted he had passed criminal screening checks during the teacher hiring process.
He is charged with alleged crimes dating back to 2003.On Thursday, the school sent a letter to parents of children attending the Nuns’ Island school, informing them of Paquette’s suspension and making available support services to staff and students.“Everyone was shocked by the news,”
Blondeau said. Another twist in the case is that Paquette and Dave Turcotte, another of the arrested pedophile suspects, were active as volunteer scout leaders with Baden-Powell Adventurers Association in Outremont and Beloeil.
Baden-Powell is a separate organization from Scouts Canada, which issued a statement Friday to assure members that none of the pedophile suspects were affiliated with Scouts Canada.
Thirty-six-year-old Turcotte was expelled from the Association des scouts du Canada, an organization independent from Scouts Canada, last year for contravening guidelines after he gave a car ride to a lone youth, said Philippe Jacques, director of communications for the Association des scouts du Canada.
“He was kicked out of the scout movement because … he was driving alone with a kid after a meeting. You’re not allowed,” said Jacques.
Nicolas Rousseau, vice-president of Baden-Powell Adventurers, could not explain how Turcotte managed to join another scouting group after his dismissal for improper conduct.“They passed all the verifications (a police check and references) that we do for new (people) who join the movement,” Rousseau said.Another pedophile suspect, Didier Chetelat, is an assistant professor at HEC Montréal business school.
At 27, Chetelat is the youngest of the 13 men arrested. The oldest is 74.All of the suspects are being held in custody until a bail hearing next Tuesday.
An earlier version of this story reported that Dave Turcotte was a member of Scouts Canada. He was a member of the Association des scouts du Canada, an organization independent from Scouts Canada. The Montreal Gazette regrets the error.