A female Langley elementary school teacher has been charged with sexually assaulting a male student.
Deborah Ralph, 57, was charged this morning with one count of sexual assault and one of sexual interference. The alleged victim was a student at James Kennedy Elementary in Walnut Grove where Ralph taught from September, 1987 to June, 2010.
The offences did not take place in the school or a school-related activity, Supt. Derek Cooke revealed at a news conference on Thursday afternoon.
He would not say how old the student was when the alleged offences took place.
Cpl. Holly Marks, who speaks for Langley RCMP, confirmed that Ralph is married. But Marks would not say if Ralph has children.
Cheryle Beaumont, superintendent of Langley schools, said that Ralph was suspended from her teaching post at Langley Fundamental Elementary where she has taught since September, 2010.
Cooke said that the charges relate to incidents that are said to have occurred from December, 1998 to June, 2001.
He said that the victim contacted Langley RCMP on Nov. 8, and Ralph was arrested the next day. She has been suspended with pay.
Beaumont was asked if the news came as a shock.
“I can assure you that it did,” she told the news conference.
Ralph had previously been the victim’s teacher, but was not at the time of the offences, Cooke said.
Cooke called the allegations “extremely serious in nature,” adding that the detachment’s Serious Crime Unit launched an investigation as soon as the allegation was made.
Ralph was released on Nov. 10 with several conditions. Among them, she is prohibited from having contact with the student who made the allegations, certain other former students, and anyone under the age of 16.
Cooke said that police will investigate whether or not there are other victims and have already interviewed several people with regard to the allegations against Ralph.
“There is no evidence that there is more than one victim,” Cooke said. “However, we are not prepared to rule out that possibility.”
He said that parents who suspect their child may have been victimized should contact the RCMP. He discouraged parents from interviewing their children because the RCMP has support personnel and specially trained investigators to interview children about situations of this nature.
Concerned parents are asked to contact the Langley RCMP at 604 532-3200 to be put in touch with a Serious Crimes investigator.
“There are serious concerns for contamination when it comes to a child’s recollections of a particular event or incident.,” Cooke said.