FERGUS – A teacher at JD Hogarth Public School here is facing child pornography charges.
Darwin Charles Harrison, 38, of Guelph, was arrested on April 6 and charged with possessing child pornography, making child pornography available and accessing child pornography.
A Guelph Police Services report at the time, which did not identify the man, stated officers executed a search warrant at an apartment “in the west end of Guelph” on Feb. 7.
“During the search, a number of devices were seized for further investigation,” police stated in the report.
The Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) identified Harrison as the accused teacher, though its website incorrectly states he was charged on April 13.
The Advertiser was alerted on May 1 by several residents of the charges against Harrison, who is listed as a long-term occasional teacher on the JD Hogarth Public School website.
Asked for an interview about the charges, Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) spokesperson Heather Loney instead emailed a brief statement confirming Harrison “is not actively at work at this time.”
She added the board is “unable to discuss details of personnel matters.”
Safety ‘top priority’
“We understand that some in the community may have questions regarding the charges reported, however we are unable to discuss matters involving police investigations,” Loney stated.
“All questions about the investigation and charges must be directed to Guelph Police.”
She noted, “The safety of all students is always our top priority.”
The Advertiser was told by a parent of a JD Hogarth student that Harrison remained in the classroom for at least a month after police allegedly found evidence of child pornography at the Guelph apartment.
Asked about the timing, Loney said Harrison “has been on a leave since early March.”
She added UGDSB officials were informed by police “in early April,” of the teacher’s “arrest, charges and conditions.
“At that time the board immediately placed the employee on an unpaid board-directed leave, which restricts access to students, staff, parents/guardians by any means,” she said.
Teacher since 2021
According to the OCT website, Harrison received his Bachelor of Education from Western University in 2021 and his undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph in 2019.
He is qualified to teach Kindergarten to Grade 6 and has been an OCT member since May 2021.
As of May 2 of this year, the website still lists Harrison as a member in “good standing,” though it does note the child pornography charges “are relevant to his membership in the college.”
Harrison is to appear in Guelph court on May 16.