Sacred Hearts students return to class following teacher arrest

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the 104th time, Sacred Hearts Academy met for its first day of school. But never before has it had to deal with a sexual assault case involving a teacher and student.

"We do not want to be defined by this one horrific incident," said Sacred Hearts Head of School Betty White.

This case involves a 15-year-old student and 53-year-old religion teacher William Plourde. Plourde is charged with seven counts of sexually assaulting the girl over the summer.

Plourde taught at the school 29 years and his courses included religion and sex education. Former students describe Plourde as creepy. The principal denies any allegations of a cover up in the past.

"Any allegations, any complaints, against any teacher has to be investigated. I am professionally bound by law to do so," said White.

Monday's opening assembly included talking about the case and making counselors and psychologists available. Twelve students requested time to talk with a professional and the administration says no new victims have stepped forward.

Mrs. White says she is proud of the victim that spoke up, "She did what we try to teach here and that is if there is an injustice, if there is a wrong being committed they find their voice just as soon as they can and they bring it forward."

The school says no families have withdrawn because of the incident and two new students enrolled today.

Hawaii News Now spoke with some parents who say they want more information. While other parents and recent graduates say that, they do not think the case will tarnish the school.

"The school itself and the teacher that are there are so dedicated to improving everyone's education and teaching people," said 2012 SHA graduate Hayley Borges, "I don't think it will affect them at all."

Plourde's religion classes have been assigned to another teacher.

William Plourde was also the musical director at the Newman Center, a Catholic parish at UH Manoa. He has resigned from that position.

He could be in court again as early as Tuesday.

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