How heartwarming to discover that at Ashbury College, the venerable traditions of cover up, denial and justice denied are alive and well.
The Rockcliffe private academy for prats and prannies, established in 1891, counts among its distinguished alumni, Matthew Perry, John Turner, Stockwell Day and Derek Harvie, screenwriter of 2001’s Freddy Got Fingered, considered by some critics to be the worst film ever made.
Ashbury was in the news last week as the Ontario College of Teachers announced that two of its longtime teachers had been found guilty of professional misconduct for their too-discreet-by-half handling of a case of inter-student buggery on a school trip to Boston in 2007.
Alyssa Novick and Ian Middleton, who still teach at Ashbury, could have their teaching certificates revoked.
In response, and to avoid any enrolment bleed, Ashbury issued a mealy-mouthed press release, followed by a rendition of the unofficial school song, The Sounds of Silence.
Where but Ashbury could Novick and Middleton have gotten the idea that hushing up the unsavoury incident was the way to go?
This time-honoured strategy for dealing with unwanted publicity has become known as The Sherwood Protocol, named for the school’s legendary headmaster, Michael Sherwood, himself the subject of allegations that he engaged his students in oral sex, masturbation and frottage over his long career at Ashbury.
After years of silence from the school, the case went to court in 1993, but got tossed when Justice David McWilliam ruled that delays in bringing Sherwood to trial violated the noted pedagogue’s constitutional rights.
The Protocol was also invoked after an incident in ‘99, when an Ashbury student came within a chug-a-lug of dying from alcohol poisoning at the home of then-Liberal cabmin Allan Rock.
Rock and wife Debbie weren’t home when a party hosted by their daughter, Lauren, got out of hand.
The Boston Teabag Party proved impossible to cover up
Blitzed on booze pilfered from Al’s liquor cabinet, two boys staggered across the street and commenced yakking. One of them became so violently ill that an ambulance had to be summoned, and he was admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning.
Through it all, the lips of Ashbury brass remained sealed, forming an airtight pucker on the arse of Ottawa establishment.
The Boston teabag party, alas, proved more difficult to deep-six.
Late in the evening of Nov. 16, 2007, four Ashbury students barged into the hotel room of one of their group, grabbed the victim, bent him over and yanked down his pants. Someone punched him in the scrotum, and then a finger was jammed up his ass as one of the little brutes chanted “Take it! Take it!”
The digital performance piece was recorded on a laptop webcam. After the perps departed, the victim told Middleton and Novick.
Two of the Beantown Buggerers were charged with assault
They immediately called then-headmaster Tam “O’Shanter” Matthews and by early morning, two of the junior proctologists were on their way back to Ottawa.
The other two, along with the laptop, soon followed.
The teachers were later accused of failing to report the assault in a timely manner to the boy’s parents, and refusing a request from the parents, who were lawyers, to report the sexual assault to cops.
Ashbury first suspended, then expelled, the four students. Three weeks later, Boston police came to Ottawa and charged two of the Beantown buggerers with assault. Both pled guilty. They were placed on probation and ordered to undergo counselling.
The victim’s parents later sued the four teachers on the trip, three students, a senior school official and Ashbury.
A mediation session was struck in 2008 to endeavor to smooth ongoing tensions between the parents and the faculty.
But negotiations broke down when Ashbury demanded they sign an agreement to the effect that not only had the teachers done nothing wrong, but acted in a professional manner.
Given the ongoing police investigation and the persistent reek emanating from the school, the parents declined.
The lines hardened. The teachers went on the defensive, whinging that the boy’s parents were pushing the Boston DA to lay criminal charges against them for spiriting the attackers and their victim out of the U.S.
Novick and Middleton made their own play for victim status, claiming that if the parents insisted on pushing for a resolution to the whole sad affair, they couldn’t continue to teach the abused boy — or his brother and sister, who were also Ashbury students — because the atmosphere had been “poisoned.”
In the end, Ashbury opted for its own version of Occam’s razor, namely that the least complicated solution to a problem is probably the correct one.
Two grade 12 students recently punted for drug dealing
Thus, the victim and his siblings were not permitted to return to Ashbury. There is nothing quite like tradition to set things right.
Meanwhile, the Sherwood Protocol is in full effect vis-à-vis the latest scandal to rock the school: Two grade 12 students were recently sent packing for drug dealing after an Ottawa Police search of their school lockers turned up a cache of goodies.
Ashbury insists it has zero tolerance for drugs, but it is widely held that teachers and the administration are in denial on the drug problem.
The boys were ordered to leave the school instead of being expelled, which allowed them to register at (ugh!) public high schools and continue on with their university applications.
That way, nobody asks any uncomfortable questions. Silentium est aureum.