Former Sacred Hearts teacher charged with sexual assault of minor

Sacred Hearts head of school: Teacher, 53, no longer works at the school

 UPDATED 6:26 PM HST Aug 09, 2013
HONOLULU -

A teacher at an all-girls school in Kaimuki was charged with six counts of third-degree sexual assault and one count of first-degree sexual assault, according to the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney.

Prosecutors say the victim is 15 years old.

The head of Sacred Hearts Academy, Betty White, said 53-year-old William Plourde no longer works at the school.

"I think he turned himself into police after talking with me," White told KITV4.

Police say Plourde was arrested at his home on Date Street at around 9 p.m. Wednesday. He remains in custody at the Oahu Community Correctional Center on $200,000 bail.

Plourde made his initial court appearance Friday morning.  A preliminary hearing is scheduled Tuesday afternoon in Honolulu District Court where evidence against Plourde could be presented.

According to a court affidavit, Plourde met the alleged victim on the morning of June 9 in Mililani Mauka near the intersection of Ahoka and Hoakula streets. That's when police say Plourde "used his hands to touch the breast and genital area" of the victim while both were inside his car. 

Susan Sanger, who taught at Scared Hearts from 2006 to 2010, says Plourde acted professionally with colleagues, but had a reputation of getting too close to students at the Catholic school.

"The students seemed not terribly bothered by it, but they are very well aware of it, and I find that troubling in an educational environment," said Sanger.

When asked if Sacred Hearts was aware of any inappropriate behavior between Plourde and female students in the past, White said the only thing she was aware of she considered hearsay. 

"I would tell you that it was gossip, that any matter involving a teacher or an employee at Sacred Hearts has to be investigated quickly and in a very thorough manner," said White. "By law, I would not be able to sit on situations like that."

Plourde had been a teacher and sailing coach at Sacred Hearts since 1984. On Thursday, White issued a letter to parents of the student body, which numbers close to 1,000 children, from junior kindergarten to 12th grade.

In the letter, White said the school is doing everything possible to ensure student safety.

"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," wrote White.

"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."

White said everything possible is being done to protect the alleged victim's identity inside and outside of school.

"We're doing everything possible to support the parents and the student," said White. "We want protect her identity. We want to help her in the healing process as much as possible."

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