Embattled London high school principal charged with sexual exploitation

Police hadn't even interviewed accused before laying charges, his lawyer said.

A London principal and community leader, already battling allegations of sexual harassment, has been criminally charged over allegations he kissed a young woman 18 years ago, his lawyer said.

Michael Deeb was charged Thursday with one count of sexual exploitation and one count of sexual assault, his lawyer, Faisal Joseph, told The London Free Press.

“We haven’t been given any of the details other than we were told for the first time Thursday that the incident involves a complaint of a lady from 18 years ago. It involves kissing,” Joseph said - writes lfpress.com

The age of the complainant is unknown, but police suggested she was between 16 and 17 at the time, he said.

“My client is getting railroaded by the #MeToo controversy express,” Joseph said. “My client denies the charges completely and absolutely.”

The Ontario Provincial Police did not seek his client’s side of the story before deciding to have the charges laid, Joseph said.

“That’s unheard of,” he said.

The Free Press was seeking OPP comment, but had not immediately heard back from the force.

Fellow London lawyer Gord Cudmore has been brought on board as co-counsel while Joseph deals with health issues, Joseph said.

Deeb’s problems began last December, when Najwa Zebian, a London teacher, poet and social media star, made claims on social media that Deeb began harassing her in 2012 when she was a new teacher and he was a vice-principal with the Thames Valley District school board.

Deeb has denied those allegations.

The school board conducted an external investigation into their relationship. The probe’s findings haven’t been released to The Free Press, but both continued to work for the board.

After the allegations were made public in December, Deebstepped aside as vice-chair of the London police services board while the Ontario Civilian Police Commission investigated the allegations.

My client is getting railroaded by the #MeToo controversy express

Lawyer Faisal Joseph

In February, he took a leave of absence from his post as principal at H.B. Beal secondary school in London as two more allegations of harassment surfaced, one from 2011 and one from 2012.

Deebalso resigned from the St Joseph’s Health Care Foundation and Huron University College.

In March, notice of a defamation suit on behalf of Deeb was served against Zebian, on the cusp of a speech she gave at an International Women’s Day breakfast in London, where she maintained she would not be silenced.

Joseph expressed frustration and anger Thursday at how the criminal charges unfolded.

Deeb was asked Thursday by the Middlesex OPP to come to the detachment to answer questions about an incident, Joseph said.

Even though it’s well known Deeb had retained a lawyer for the earlier allegations, police didn’t contact him, Joseph said.

Joseph said he called the OPP to find out what was going on and suggested there couldn’t be charges yet, given the police’s request for an interview of his client.

But police said they’d already made up their minds and charges would be laid, Joseph said.

But, Joseph said, “I have never worried about getting justice before a judge or a jury. They don’t care about politics and bias.”

Read more news of London on our site.

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