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St. Michael's principal explains delay in reporting alleged assault, 'independent examination' launched

Last Updated Nov 19, 2018 at 12:05 am EST

The principal of a prestigious private boys’ school at the centre of a criminal investigation said Sunday he held off on promptly informing police about an alleged sexual assault involving students on campus because the victim hadn’t yet told his family about the incident.

Greg Reeves, the principal of St. Michael’s College School, said he received a “horrific” video of the alleged incident on Monday night, but did not inform police until Wednesday morning.

“I assisted him in telling his parents and the following morning — because of my priority in caring for the victim — I shared the video with police,” Reeves said in an interview Sunday evening.

Police began investigating the incident after CityNews received a tip on Wednesday and reached out to authorities for details.

Toronto police have confirmed they first heard about the video of the alleged sexual assault at St. Michael’s from the media on Wednesday and immediately contacted the school.

Police sources have said the incident — one of several under investigation — involved a group of students on the football team pinning down another student in a locker room and allegedly sexually assaulting him with a broom handle.

Those sources have said a previous incident in a washroom involved members of the basketball team bullying a student and soaking him with water.

The Roman Catholic school, which teaches grades 7 through 12, has said eight students have been expelled and another was suspended after internal investigations into both cases. On Friday, the school said it had also reported a third incident.

Reeves said the third incident was reported to him by the mother of a student. He said the mother called him on Thursday, and he alerted police the same day. He declined to provide details, citing privacy concerns for those involved.

Reeves said he received another video over email Sunday morning, which he did not view but immediately forwarded to police. It’s not clear whether that video depicts a new incident or one of those already reported.

In a statement released Sunday, St. Michael’s said it’s launching an “independent examination” into what it called “underlying attitudes and behaviours inconsistent with its culture and values.”

Reeves said an “external review committee” will be created in the next two to three weeks. He hopes a preliminary examination will be done by spring, with a more in-depth investigation to be completed by next summer.

He said the review will examine the traditions and social practices of students at every grade level and interviews will be conducted with students, parents, alumni and current and former faculty and staff.

“We hope to make visible what has been invisible,” he said. “We have to do better.”

Reeves said the school will also implement an anonymous tip line in the form of an app, which he hopes will be active in the next few days. He said a social worker will also be hired in the “next couple of weeks,” but added that those affected by the recent incidents are being “supported and cared for.”

He said the junior football team program has been cancelled for the school year, and all sports programming at St. Michael’s been “postponed” until Wednesday. He declined to provide the ages of the students involved in the alleged incidents or say whether they played on any sports teams.

Reeves said legal obligations the school abides by in reporting such incidents fall under the Child and Family Services Act. He said he is not aware of children’s aid services being notified about any incident.

With a file from News Staff


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