Photograph of David Dewees from the Toronto Police.
On Saturday morning, David Dewees killed himself. On October 1, two days before, Toronto Police had charged the Jarvis Collegiate teacher with two counts of invitation to sexual touching and two counts of luring. The police allege that “between July 2008 and July 2009, [Dewees] befriended two boys while working at the Ontario Pioneer Camp in Port Sydney, Ontario,” and that “he had inappropriate contact with them over the Internet.” (The photo at right, and those charges, are from the police press release.) As is often the case, the accusation made the news, including the Star, which misreported that Dewees was charged with sexual assault of the two boys.
And now Dewees is dead. Guessing the precise cause or causes for his suicide would not just be callous, but useless, since we can’t know whether he jumped in front of a train at High Park Station because he was guilty and knew his life was ruined, or because he wasn’t guilty and knew his life was ruined, or because of all the media attention, or because he had a history of suicidal thoughts, or because there was something els—oh, wait, the Star‘s Rosie DiManno has figured it out: Dewees was guilty!
Our law affords no protection from libel to the dead. So we will assume by his actions, and for the purpose of exploring this awful event, that Dewees was guilty as charged; that the Grade 10 English and Latin teacher and volunteer camp counsellor did indeed invite sexual touching—as opposed to actual touching—from boys, luring them on the Internet. Police said he’d been removed from his counselling post at the Christian-based Ontario Pioneer Camp in Port Sydney, Ont., after the emails surfaced.
His kink, a sexual attraction to boys, was the nub of the thing and it was out there in the public domain. His reputation was in ruins, even if many students still admired and respected the guy. In the way of these matters, that reputation would not have been resurrected either, in the event of acquittal.
A sexual compulsion for minors is hard-wired in the brain. There’s little Dewees could have done to alter his thoughts…
If Dewees was aroused by boys, prudence demanded he put himself far from temptation, although there’s really no such thing as safe distance in an online universe. Yet he taught pubescent boys and volunteered at a youth camp. He was a figure of trust and authority. That was his betrayal.
He was flirting with public exposure and disaster.
It must have both thrilled and sickened him.
On popular links sharing site Reddit, the column is one of the most discussed items, with many commenters emailing DiManno with various levels of decorum, and some claiming to have received emails back from her. One alleged response: “Don’t be daft. You know very well why Mr. Dewees killed himself.” Which, if DiManno said it—and if she didn’t, her column said the same thing for her—is a spectacularly and measurably wrong thing to assert.
But in the tidy world of Rosie DiManno, newspaper columnists can read minds, and suicide is a guilty plea. In the tidy world of Rosie DiManno, she is judge, jury, and executioner.
Thanks to readers David C and Michael Lawrie for the heads-up.