A model-turned-history teacher at a prestigious South African boarding school has resigned amid claims she had a sexual relationship with at least one pupil.
Fiona Viotti, 30, who married just last year, quit £16,000-per-year Bishops Diocesan College in Cape Town last Thursday before an 18-year-old student came forward to say he was in an ‘intense’ sexual relationship with her.
The boy claims he entered into a consensual relationship with Viotti, who coached the water polo and under-14 rugby team, but when he tried to end the relationship she became controlling, at which point he told his parents who called in a lawyer.
Officials at the elite school have now brought in their own lawyer to probe claims that Viotti, niece of former South African national rugby coach Nick Mallet, had a string of affairs at the school going back six years.
It is understood that investigators are preparing to interview 40 current and former pupils about the allegations.
Fiona Viotti, 30, has quit a prestigious South African boarding school where she taught history after an 18-year-old pupil said he had an ‘intense’ sexual relationship with her
Officials at the £16,000-per-year school now believe that several boys were involved in relationship with the teacher over a number of years, and have called in lawyers to investigate
It is thought that a number of explicit videos featuring Viotti performing sex acts have been shared among the boys, and have been posted online.
Lawyers for Viotti have warned that the content was posted without her permission and sharing it is illegal.
Local reports do not make it clear how many of the boys are thought to have been directly involved in relationships with Viotti.
It is also not clear if any of the boys were being taught or coached directly by Viotti, or how long her alleged relationship with the 18-year-old pupil was.
The school said in a statement that they are probing an allegation of ‘serious misconduct’ by a former teacher, and there is reason to believe that several boys ‘have been affected over a number of years.’
Viotti’s lawyer has spoken only to deny claims that she had fled the country, though said she is ‘stressed’ over the allegations. No charges have yet been laid, he added.
A school newsletter reveals that Fiona only married 13 months ago, to Pavo Viotti, 32, who has a top venture capital and private equity company in Cape Town.
The pair have now separated, according to local reports.
Outlining the claims against Fiona, one of the boy’s parents told the IOL news site: ‘He was a willing participant in the beginning but became a victim when he couldn’t get out of it.
‘The teacher started texting him to come to her house on the campus and that’s how it started but it got to the stage where he had had enough.
Viotti – the daughter of former South Africa rugby coach Nick Mallett – was a history teacher, but also coached the water polo team (pictured) and the under-14 rugby team. It is not clear if any of the alleged victims were taught or coached directly by her
The former model had been dating banker Pavo Viotti (right) since 2008 and the pair married just 13 months ago
Pavo is now said to have separated from his wife, and refused to answer the door at their £350,000 Cape Town property. She is thought to be living with her parents
‘But the teacher wouldn’t let him go and he went to his parents for help and they went to the headmaster and now it is all coming out.’
Several sources including one close to the pupil involved added: ‘It seems this has been going on for about six years.
‘That is why the headmaster is asking for other boys past and present to come forward with information. If the rumours at the school are correct there could be many many more involved.’
The South African Police Service have not been involved as criminal charges have not been laid as the schoolboy is two years over the age of consent.
A school source said: ‘It would appear this is not a criminal matter but one of gross misconduct between a teacher who has stepped over a clear line and it is a matter for the school to handle.
‘They have appointed a senior lawyer who is independent of the school to ensure the matter is investigated properly’.
School principal Guy Pearson admitted to the sex scandal rocking the elite school in a statement saying: ‘We can confirm that there have been several boys who have been affected over a number of years.
‘The investigation into the serious sexual misconduct of one of our female teachers is ongoing and we have appealed to boys and parents for any information that will add to our understanding.
‘We understand there will be lots of questions but please appreciate this is a matter which needs to be managed with the utmost sensitivity and I cannot share more information at this stage’.
The school also revealed that it has made a team of psychologists and psychiatrists available to any boy or family member that may have been affected by the events surrounding the teacher.
The disgraced teacher’s father Dave Mallett is also a history teacher at the same Christian church school and coaches the rugby 1st XV and her grandfather Anthony was a former headmaster there for 18 years.
Bishops Diocesan College is one of South Africa’s most prestigious schools, with alumni including astronaut Mark Shuttleworth and South African cricket star Herschelle Gibbs
Dave Mallett, Viotti’s father, is a history teacher, housemaster, and rugby coach at the school – and has spoken of his ‘devastation’ after the claims were revealed
English-born housemaster Dave, who has remained at the school despite the allegations against his daughter has sent a message to parents saying his family faced ‘tough times ahead’.
The devastated dad said: ‘Thanks very much for the messages of support that we have received in the wave of the devastating events involving my daughter Fi and our family as a whole.
‘Tough times ahead no doubt – but I’ll be soldiering on to support my family as best I can.
‘Obviously Fiona’s health and safety is our priority right now and we will be doing all we can to help her pull this through’ he said.
Bishop’s Diocesan College is a private school founded in 1849 by Bishop Robert Gray to teach Christian values and educate the sons of colonialists in Cape Town and costs £15,000 a year to attend.
Former pupils include astronaut Mark Shuttleworth and South African cricket star Herschelle Gibbs.
Fiona is a former model, played water polo as a teenager, and was one of the ‘Beauties of Sport’ featured in Sports Illustrated in 2009 – a year after she met her future husband.
The couple fell in love in 2008 while backpacking in Vail, Colorado, and their adventures took them to South America, Europe and South East Asia before they returned together to Cape Town.
They were married in September last year in a white wedding in Plettenberg Bay and were planning a family together until the school scandal hit the news.
She is believed to be in hiding with her parents at their home in Cape Town, while he has refused to comment or answer the door at their £350,000 home in a Cape Town suburb.
Both have deleted all their social media accounts and close friends say they are living apart at the moment.
South African media has widely publicised the link between the former Springbok coach Nick Mallet and his niece and no denials have been made that any photos or videos posted are not of Fiona.
A former schoolboy at Bishops Diocesan College who was taught water polo by the school mistress said: ‘Every boy at the school was besotted with Fiona as she looked like a supermodel.
‘But the thing was she was never flirty and comes across as a very shy and innocent and very nice girl and to hear these allegations has just blown me and a lot of the guys I went to school with away.
‘Fiona’s uncle Nick was the Springboks coach and her dad Dave coaches the rugby 1st XV and her grandfather Tony was headmaster here for nearly 20 years after he emigrated here from England.
‘The Mallets are part of the fabric of the recent history of Bishops and I cannot believe Fiona of all people has been having sex with her pupils as she is the total opposite of the sort of person you would suspect.
‘The word is that there is a lot more to come out and former pupils who left the school years ago are being contacted. It is a great school and one of the best in South Africa and you just don’t expect this.’