HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A former teacher at religious private school on Oahu has been charged with seven counts of sexual assault following an alleged incident involving a teenage student.
William Plourde, a 29-year teaching veteran at Sacred Hearts Academy in Honolulu, was dismissed by school officials on Wednesday afternoon, hours before he was placed under arrest by police on suspicion of sexual assault.
Plourde's dismissal from Sacred Hearts was confirmed by Head of School Betty White, who said in a statement to Hawaii News Now that the school was cooperating with police authorities during their investigation.
A spokesperson from the Honolulu prosecutor's office confirmed to Hawaii News Now that Plourde, a religion teacher and sailing coach, was charged Friday morning with one count of first-degree sexual assault and six counts of third-degree sexual assault.
Late Friday afternoon Scared Hearts sent the following letter to the families of current students.
Dear Parents and Guardians:
It is with much sadness and concern that I write to confirm the media reports that a former Sacred Hearts teacher, William Plourde, has been charged with sexual assault on an Academy high school student.
The Academy is fully cooperating with authorities in their investigation. Within one hour of the Administration receiving and confirming a claim that was brought forward this past Wednesday about Mr. Plourde's inappropriate behavior, the teacher was dismissed.
In this case, a minor is involved, and the school is committed to protecting the identity and the future welfare of our student. We must be cautious about information being shared with others that could affect her privacy and healing. We thank you for cooperating with us in this regard as we help her and her family cope with this very difficult situation.
I assure you that the school is committed to safeguarding the safety of every child entrusted to our care, and at any time, if a reported breech of behavior or policy is made, it is taken seriously and acted upon in an equally expedient manner. Policies are in place, and training is continuous. In this instance there was also a very serious breech of our mission. We will continue to review policies to see what more can be done.
The Academy faculty and staff have been in closed meetings this morning to handle their own anger, furor and frustration in order to effectively help and work with our students and parents. We have been guided by an outside professional who has experience in handling such sensitive and serious issues. When your daughters in grades 7-12 return to classes on Monday, an administrative team will be meeting with them, and counselors from a community outreach program will be available to meet with students who have concerns or who just wish to talk.
We have received many notes of support from parents and alumnae. They are very much appreciated. If parents have concerns they would like to discuss with me, I am very happy to meet with them. In fact, I am available throughout the weekend. I live only a short distance from school, and I can meet you at your convenience.
We will have more information on this developing story as soon as it becomes available.