A Canadian high school teacher and photographer is being accused of conducting a sexual relationship with a student. York Regional Police say the affair began in October 2017 and ended in December of the same year, reports CP24. The website describes Marianna Riossi, 28, as a substitute teacher, performing the role since 2014.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the school district, Sonia Gallo said, “These allegations are certainly upsetting for YCDSB. We take very seriously our responsibility to ensure a safe and respectful working and learning environment for all our students and staff.” Gallo added that Riossi was place on leave as soon as the allegations emerged. Riossi lives in Vaughan, a city on the outskirts of Toronto. The CP24 report says that Riossi is facing three counts of sexual assault and three counts of sexual exploitation. Riossi will appear in court on May 6.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Riossi Says She’s in a Relationship on Her Now-Deleted Facebook Page
The Toronto Sun reports that Riossi has been a teacher in the district since 2014 and has been under investigation since January 26. On her now-deleted Facebook page, where Riossi says she’s in a relationship, the teacher also says she works at St. Theresa of Lisieux. The Sun report adds that Riossi has been licensed to teach since 2012.
Constable Laura Nicolle told Global News Canada that, “We’re not releasing any information about the student or the specific school that it happened at to protect the victim. But we do want to put the information out there to parents and to students to have a conversation and are encouraging other potential victims or anyone with information to come forward.”
2. Riossi Once Said that She ‘Enjoys Teaching Seniors the Most’
One of Riossi’s reviews on Rate My Teacher reads that she “makes learning fun.” On that site, Riossi has a 4.76 out of 5 rating. Most of the comments on Riossi’s page at the time of writing revolve around her alleged abuse of a student. One positive message read:
I just want to say that Ms Riossi is one of the best teachers I have EVER HAD. She would NEVER EVER EVER do anything like what is being accused of her in the media right now. She helped me so much and made my marks grow increasingly higher and higher. Any student who is accusing her is a manipulator.
They probably were p****d that they didn’t get a good mark and the stupid part is that they are ruining her life for no reason. This **** is unfair, she works so hard and cares about us students.
Riossi’s profile with the Ontario College of Teachers lists as being in “Good Standing.” That bio says that Riossi studied Applied Arts at the University of Guelph, Ontario, and a Bachelor of Education at York University in Toronto.
In a blog posting from 2016, Riossi says she is qualified to teach Special Ed, Phys Ed, Religion and Art, at elementary level. At high school level, Riossi teaches science subjects. Riossi writes of her teaching philosophy, “It is very important to always make students feel welcome and valued. It is essential to create a caring, respectful and inclusive classroom.” Riossi also wrote that she enjoys “teaching the intermediate and seniors the most.”
3. Riossi Also Works for Her Brother’s Photography Business
Riossi works part-time at her brother’s photography studio, Bianconero. According to the company’s social media profiles, they have counted Major League Soccer champions Toronto F.C. among their clients. Their Instagram includes multiple messages crediting “Marianna” for her hard work in photographing weddings and other important events.
Riossi wrote in her 2016 blog, “I also work as a professional photographer/videographer, digital designer and video editor so I am so excited to take this course! It would be a dream come true if I could teach COMMtech since this is my passion.” Speaking to YorkRegion.com, an employee at Bianconero told the website, “It’s all false.” While a friend, Adriano Volpentesta, said something to the YorkRegion, “I’m very shocked to hear that,” he said, explaining that he knew at one point she taught at St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School, in Woodbridge. She’s a very good person … A nice young lady.”
4. Riossi’s Arrest Comes on the Same Day Another Teacher Said it Was Unconstitutional for a Court to Tell Her Not to Have Sex With Students
News of Riossi’s arrest comes on the same day that a teacher in Alabama claimed that a law that sentenced her to three years in prison for having sex with a student was “unconstitutional,” reports AL.com. Charli Jones Parker, 31, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2017. Parker’s lawyer, Virginia Buck, says that the statute for which Parker is accused of violating was not applicable to Parker, because she taught at a private school, until after her arrest. Buck said, via AL.com, “(The statute) at least has been narrowed but it still treats school employees differently than anyone else. A doctor or therapist would be in a position of authority or trust over a patient, but it’s not a criminal offense with them to have sex those patients if they are over the age of consent.”
5. Female Educators Make Up a Small Fraction Teacher/Student Sexual Assault Convictions
Slate reported that female educators make up 4 percent of convicted rapists in teacher/student scandals in 2006. While in 2016, former Department of Education chief of staff, Terry Abbott, wrote in the Washington Post that teacher/student sex scandals were on the rise. For example, in Kentucky in 2011, the state saw the number of teacher/student sexual relationships nearly double.
In November 2016, Texas State Representative Tony Dale sought to pass legislation that would prevent, as Dale says, teachers merely resigning and moving. Dale said of his legislation, “HB 218 increases penalties and close loopholes that allow educators who engage in inappropriate relationships to resign and obtain employment in another district. This bill seeks to allow Texas the tools we need to get rid of teachers who prey on our children.”