Malcolm F. Watson on Monday was ordered deported from Canada for having sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl who was once his student at Buffalo Seminary. But the former English teacher probably won't be leaving anytime soon.
The charges to which Watson pleaded guilty in Cheektowaga -- misdemeanor sexual abuse and child endangerment -- are the same as sexual exploitation under Canadian law, ruled Liz Lasowski, an immigration official who heard the deportation case that was lodged against him a few days after the Oct. 23 plea.
The defendant admitted fondling the girl in a car at Walden Galleria, where he was arrested April 2. The all-girls school on Bidwell Parkway fired him the next day.
Under an unusual plea deal crafted by defense lawyers and Erie County prosecutors, Watson, 35, an American citizen who is -- or rather, was -- a permanent resident of Canada, was sentenced to three years' probation in Canada, where he lives with his Canadian wife and children. He was allowed to return to the United States only to report to his probation officer.
The sentence provoked an uproar in Canada. An Ontario Parliament leader called the decision "mind-boggling and horrific."
Another warned the province could become a "dumping ground" for American sex offenders.
Watson was detained by Canadian authorities Oct. 27 but released a day later pending the outcome of the deportation case.
Shortly after Lasowski issued her decision Monday, Stephen Green, Watson's Canadian lawyer, filed an appeal that he said may not be heard for a year or longer because of a heavy case backlog.
In the meantime, his client will be free to work and travel in Canada and cross international bridges to meet his probation officer, Green said.
"I respect it, but I don't agree with it," Green said of the deportation order.