A Canadian teacher working at a prestigious school in Beijing was forced to resign last week after his sordid past became known in China.
Last Thursday, the Vancouver Sun published a story about 66-year-old Robert John Robertson who was working at Beijing Huijia Private School, one of the most expensive private schools in the city, as an English, communications and physical education teacher who also coached girls volleyball, soccer and softball.
The Sun noted that Robertson had been stripped of his teaching credentials last year by the British Columbia Teacher Regulation Branch over allegations that he had sex with three female students aged between 15 and 16 years old between 1974 and 1976.
Robertson quit his job with the Richmond School Board before an investigation into the allegations could be completed, moving on to the Vancouver School Board where he was once again investigated for misconduct in 2006. Resigning before that investigation could be completed as well, he moved to China to teach in 2008.
The Vancouver Sun story was widely shared on WeChat last week, forcing Robertson to reluctantly resign from his position at Huijia on Friday. The next day, he forwarded a 4,000-word statement by email to the South China Morning Post defending himself and claiming that the school board’s investigation against him had been rigged to make him look bad.
In the statement, Robertson did not deny having sexual contact with students, but instead cast himself as a victim of his own drug and alcohol addiction and of “promiscuous” high-schoolers, writing about one of his accusers: “The commissioner called ***** ‘vulnerable,’ I hardly see it that way. She was more like a psycho-sexual predator. She was EXTREMELY promiscuous and was having sex with many people when she was going out with me.”
“Was I not a victim when ***** held my head in her lap when I was semi-comatose and enticed three of her girlfriends to fondle me… was I not the victim when ***** appeared at my apartment in Vancouver with a girlfriend and convinced my landlord [to] let her into my apartment,” he continued.
The revelations about Robertson’s past have sparked concerns from Chinese parents and netizens about the hiring standards of foreign teachers in China. On Friday, Huijia published a statement on its website saying that the school had conducted a rigorous background check before hiring Robertson in 2011, adding that he had provided proof that he had no criminal record in Canada and that no complaints had been made against him while he was teaching at Huijia.
In his statement to SCMP, Robertson even claimed that the school was aware of his past transgressions, writing that “I did NOTHING wrong! The school knew of this a long time ago and requested a NEW criminal background check which I sent them!” In addition, he also included purported statements of praise from his Chinese students at Huijia.
“[You] are the best PE teacher forever. And we also love you forever,” wrote one alleged student. “I don’t believe the internet,” wrote another.
[Images via Linkedin / SCMP]
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