MONTREAL - A Montreal high school teacher was fired Thursday for showing a Grade 10 class what is believed to be the video of the infamous body-parts killing.
CAUTION: GRAPHIC CONTENT MAY DISTURB SOME READERS.
The school board issued a statement saying the 29-year-old teacher, who was under contract until the end of the school year, was terminated — effective immediately.
The teacher at Cavelier-De LaSalle High School showed the video on June 4, apparently at the urging of students in his history-and-civics class.
Students said that during a discussion of current events, and the Magnotta case, they had asked him to show the video and he apparently relented after they voted 22 to 3 in favour of watching it.
Widely available on the Internet, the video allegedly depicts Luka Rocco Magnotta killing, dismembering, and committing horrific acts Concordia University student Jun Lin. Its contents are so disturbing that even veteran police investigators have been rattled while viewing it.
The teacher has been suspended with pay since June 4 and he offered his description of the events to the school board on Wednesday.
One day later, the board made its announcement. It said it took a number of factors into account including the seriousness of the gesture and the impact on the students involved.
"The unacceptable nature of the action by the teacher demanded an unequivocal response," school board president Diane Lamarche-Venne said in a statement.
Many students had defended the popular young teacher. Earlier Thursday, several held a rally around lunchtime. The student body has created a petition calling for his reinstatement.
He has been described as a longtime volunteer, a hockey coach, and as someone students could always turn to if they needed to discuss problems inside or outside the classroom. He recently had a baby.
One student told The Canadian Press that the popular teacher made a mistake and should be allowed to return to his job — a view apparently held by many others at the school.
Before the announcement Thursday, Chloe Silvano had said she hoped he might keep his job.
"I will be sad (if he's dismissed) because he's the best teacher in the school," said Silvano. "Everyone finds he's a good teacher and everyone loves him...
"He's always there for us, listening to us when we need to talk... He's funny and we love him."
But not everyone held the view that he should be allowed to return. Another student agreed he should have been fired for his lapse in judgment.
"He's a great teacher, but what he did was wrong," said Brittany Henriques, "so firing him is the ideal thing to do."
Henriques agreed the students are not completely innocent in all this.
"The teacher is at fault completely, but so are the students." Henriques said. "They knew this was a real murder, they knew what was going on and they begged for it (to be shown)."
Students in the class said the incident began during a chat about current events — which is how the history-and-citizenship class often begins. Many students had already seen the video on their own.
A video circulating on the Internet — called "1 Lunatic, 1 Ice Pick" — is believed by authorities to show the 33-year-old Lin being murdered in Montreal several weeks ago.
It shows someone stabbing a man and dismembering him. It then shows the killer committing acts of sex and what appears to be cannibalism on parts of the corpse.
What disappointed Henriques was that the majority of the students wanted to see the video — and that none of them stood up to say no.
"It's horrible, disrespectful and disgusting to me," said Henriques, who was not in the class and has not seen the video.
"Never would I disrespect someone's family like that. I find it disgusting. It brings me to tears to think about it."
Henriques says students did the right thing by eventually telling school authorities.
Both the teacher and students will be offered counselling to deal with the stressful events of recent days.
- with files from Graham Hughes in Montreal