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6 boys charged in St. Michael’s sex assault probe released on bail

Last Updated Jan 15, 2019 at 12:53 pm EDT

Six boys who are facing charges of assault, gang sexual assault, and sexual assault with a weapon in connection to an alleged sex attack with a broomstick at St. Michael’s College School have been released on bail.

The bail was set between $5,000 and $7,000 and all six are scheduled to return to court on Dec. 19.

The teens range in age from 14 to 15 years old.

Some of the bail conditions include: not allowed to contact each other or the coaches, they must stay away from the alleged victim, not allowed to possess any weapons and their parents must supervise all social media activity.

Police said five of the students turned themselves in to police on Monday morning, and another was arrested while walking to school.

Police are probing three other separate incidents at the school, one an alleged sex assault and two assaults, that were all reportedly videotaped.

“All of these incidents appear to be hazing-initiated,” Inspector Dominic Sinopoli, Unit Commander of Sex Crimes for Toronto police, said during a Monday news conference.

“We have reason to believe that there may be more videos and more incidents,” he said, adding that there are a minimum of four separate alleged victims in total at this point.

Police couldn’t say if the incidents, which all allegedly took place during the current school year, are related.

Police sources have said the locker room incident 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.

Sinopoli said that the alleged victim is doing OK.

“He has gotten the support he needs and deserves,” he said.

He added that child pornography charges were not laid against the six boys arrested, but did not rule out that those charges could be brought in the future.

“We are very concerned about the distribution of the videos on social media,” Sinopoli added. “The unintended consequences are far-reaching and detrimental to the recovery of the victim. I cannot stress to you (enough) the importance of ensuring that these videos are immediately deleted from all phones and devices in your possession. Failure to do so and or the continued distribution or publishing of these videos will be treated very seriously.”

Sinopoli said police could potentially look into historic incidents if victims came forward.

“We place no timelines on any allegations of hazing that cross to the criminal realm,” he said.

Just as Monday’s news conference was about to begin, police announced that a bomb threat was made to the school and that they are investigating. It’s the second threat directed at the school since the scandal broke.

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, was supposed to speak at the news conference but did not attend in order to deal with the threat at the school.

The Roman Catholic school expelled eight students and suspended another one in connection with at least two incidents that allegedly took place on campus and were captured on video.

Reeves described the video of the alleged sexual assault that led to Monday’s charges as “horrific” and said he didn’t report it to police right away because the alleged victim had not yet told his family about the incident.

Reeves did eventually face the media later Monday, calling the situation “incredibly sad.”

“(We) fully support these arrests,” he said. “We absolutely believe the horrific incidents of sexual assault merit the charges being laid by police.”

He again defended delaying calling police immediately after becoming aware of the locker room video.

“The reality is I had to make a decision at the time and when I saw that video the victim became my most important person and he at that point was a priority.”

Sinopoli said the school should have reported the alleged sexual assault immediately. He added that the principal and administration are part of the ongoing investigation but not the active focus and could not confirm if charges will follow.

He said police had also received unconfirmed reports of threats against St. Michael’s students on social media and in public.

“We want to reiterate that we are monitoring social media and we’ll act on any reports of reprisals, retaliation, violence or threats of violence,” Sinopoli said.

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.

With files from the Canadian Press

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