Photo: Colin Dacre
UPDATE 6:45 p.m.
A Kelowna piano teacher accused of sexually abusing an underage student lost his teaching job with the local school district years before, due to voyeurism allegations involving a minor.
On Wednesday, police announced that Neil Nein-Nein Wong, 54, has been charged with sexual assault and sexual interference over allegations he sexually assaulted a student child over an eight-month period in 2021.
According to police, Wong offered private piano lessons which he taught outside his home and, given his access to children, police fear there may be no more victims.
Parents contacted him via email and later by phone to arrange piano lessons, completely unaware of his background. The mother of one of Wong’s former piano students told Castanet on Wednesday that she had no idea about his earlier voyeurism accusation.
Court records show Wong was charged in 2013 with one count of voyeurism involving a minor. In 2014, he received an 18-month parole.
A parole means that a defendant avoids a permanent criminal conviction and a criminal record if he meets probation conditions set by a judge for a certain period of time – in Wong’s case, 18 months.
Details of the voyeurism case are covered by a publication ban to protect the identity of the female victim, who was 15 at the time.
An anonymous consent resolution summary from the British Columbia Teachers’ Regulatory Commissioner that matches the timeline and case details related to Wong’s voyeurism charge reveals troubling earlier allegations.
In 2012, he twice used a school-provided laptop to access sexually explicit material during school hours while working. He had also previously received a ‘letter of direction’ after hugging female students in a way that made them feel uncomfortable.
The teacher’s regulatory filing indicates that Wong was suspended from the school district in 2013 and officially resigned from his job in 2015. In 2016, his teaching certificate was revoked.
Archived 2013 articles in the Kelowna Capital News and the Daily Courier listed him as a music teacher at Kelowna High School.
A former Kelowna high school student who was in Wong’s class when the voyeurism allegations were made told Castanet on Wednesday “we weren’t allowed to talk about it at school.”
“And every time the parents called the school to ask what was going on – we brought in a substitute teacher pretty immediately – they weren’t told anything. They were told, ‘he’s just taking some time off. . “”
“And then once he left, we never got any information about what was done with him. I know, for me, it was a stressful time,” she said, explaining that the allegations had created a rift in the student body between those who believed the accusers and those who did not.
The former student said news of the new charges against Wong made her “so angry”.
Last month, CTV News reported on another teacher who was banned for a decade from the school system due to an inappropriate relationship with the student. This former teacher then announced his services as a private teacher.
The provincial government told CTV it has no authority over private guardians and encouraged parents to do their homework.
“We encourage anyone looking to hire a tutor to carefully review their employment history, including suspension of teaching certificates,” an Education Department spokesperson said.
But in Wong’s case — because the parole allowed no criminal record and his name is expunged from the records of the BC Teachers’ Commissioner of Regulation — it’s unclear how a parent would have a way to learn about his past.
Recent charges against Wong have not been proven in court. He will appear in court on June 16
ORIGINAL: 12:00 p.m.
A Kelowna piano teacher has been charged with child sex crimes and police believe there may be other victims.
Neil Nein-Nein Wong, 54, was charged last month with sexual assault and sexual interference over allegations he sexually assaulted a child student over an eight-month period in 2021.
RCMP say their Child Abuse Unit in Kelowna opened an investigation into the allegations on Feb. 17, 2021. The incidents allegedly occurred when the child was taking piano lessons at the teacher’s home.
Wong was arrested the following day and released on conditions of having no contact with anyone under the age of 16. On March 3, 2022, the teacher appeared in court to have the terms of release changed.
Crown prosecutors approved charges against Wong on April 22, 2022. He is now scheduled to appear in court on June 16.
RCMP believe the piano teacher’s access to the youths means there could be other victims or people with more information.
According to police, Wong offered private piano lessons which he taught outside his home. The parents contacted him via an e-mail address, then later by telephone to organize the lessons. Investigators learned Wong taught a number of students away from home and also taught online. The total number of students is unknown at this time.
It appears that Wong was previously a licensed teacher in central Okanagan public schools. Archived 2013 articles in the Kelowna Capital News and Daily Courier named him a music teacher at Kelowna High School.
Online court records show that the BC Teachers’ Regulatory Commissioner was in court in August 2015 seeking a transcript of earlier court proceedings and a request from Wong to reduce the length of a probation order. .
The Commissioner of Teacher Regulation does not have any disciplinary notices related to Wong in its database, although it generally retracts the names of teachers implicated in sexual offenses to protect the students involved.
“We are asking families who have received piano lessons from Neil Wong to contact the Kelowna RCMP Child Abuse Unit at 778-940-2240 and quote file number 2022-9344” , says Cpl. Tim Russell of the Vulnerable Persons Unit.
“The Kelowna RCMP Child Abuse Unit is an integrated partner of the Child Advocacy Center that coordinates multi-faceted investigations and is dedicated to supporting children and families in our community.”