An Embattled Dawson Teacher Is Gone After Another Wave Of Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Multiple women, including Kayleigh Choiniere (pictured), came forward with allegations.
Following an investigation into multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, Dawson College has announced that teacher Winston Sutton is no longer employed by the school. The news comes after some former students shared their experiences of alleged abuse by Sutton in widely-circulated social media posts. Students have also criticized the Dawson administration for its handling of complaints over years and for what some called a toxic culture in the school's theatre program.
This article and a video included below contain descriptions of sexual assault, which may trigger some readers. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, call the Assaulted Women's Helpline at 1-866-863-0511 or find them online here. You can also contact the Support Services for Male Survivors of Sexual Assault at 1-866-887-0015 or online here. For a list of resources by province, go here.
One former student, Kayleigh Choiniere, joined other women to send a complaint to the school in 2017. She characterized it as "a 'he said, she said' situation."
She also described a "culture of silence."
"What we wanted was for [Dawson] to change the structure of the program and the grading because it really creates a perfect storm for abuse since every teacher has ultimate power over you and your future," Choiniere told MTL Blog.
She described inappropriate physical contact and psychological manipulation by Sutton.
Winston Sutton did not respond to multiple requests for a comment on this story.
Prior to his departure from Dawson, Sutton had not taught at the school since August 31.
In a September 16 Facebook post, Dawson Theatre Productions said that the program's faculty is "committed to drafting an immediate Action Plan to address these issues and work towards positive change."
"We will seek guidance and support from the wider theatre community as we implement meaningful change through further policy and procedures so that this can never happen to any student ever again."
Dawson College Director General Richard Filion reiterated this point in a September 18 statement.
"With humility, I would like to extend an invitation to the theatre community to work with Dawson College to create the changes that are called for," he said.
"Our objective is to identify and adopt the best practices and policies for teaching theatre."
In the long term, Choiniere wants the entire Dawson Theatre program to be restructured.
"I want [the college] to investigate the entire program and how everything works, and make some changes to that, to make it so that it's safer."
"Just removing Winston won't change the culture of the program."