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5 St. Mike’s students face new charges in 8th incident

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

Toronto police say five St. Michael’s College School students turned themselves in to police on Wednesday and have been charged with assault, sexual assault with a weapon, and gang sexual assault in connection to an incident on Oct. 17.

Of the five students, four were previously charged in connection to a separate alleged sexual assault at the school.

It’s the latest chapter in a scandal that has rocked the prestigious private Catholic school.

Inspector Domenic Sinopoli, Unit Commander of Sex Crimes, provided a thorough update on Tuesday. Here’s what we learned:

  • Police investigated a total of eight different occurrences.
  • Three of those occurrences resulted in criminal charges being laid against seven students.
  • Investigations into the other five occurrences have concluded without charges, either because there was no evidence of a crime, or alleged victims did not want to participate in the investigation, Sinopoli said.
  • Four of the five students charged on Wednesday were also previously charged in connection to an incident on Nov. 19.
  • Two of the five students charged on Wednesday, and in connection to the Nov. 19 incident, were also charged with assault and assault with a weapon in relation to an incident on Sept. 18.
  • All of the incidents involve members of the football team.
  • Police do not have grounds to lay charges against any school staff or coaching staff.
  • There are no reports of historical physical or sexual abuse and Sinopoli said police don’t believe criminal behaviour “extended outside of this school year or involved anyone outside of this small group of students.”

 

Sinopoli also warned students that police would seek charges against anyone who is in possession of videos depicting sexual assaults, adding that police believe some students are still trying to share the videos online.

“We are still actively investigating the fact that the original sexual assault was both videotaped and subsequently distributed,” he said. “Despite the various warnings, we have credible evidence to suggest that people are still in possession of this video and or have made attempts to upload it on social media.”

Interim President of St. Michael’s College School, Fr. Andrew Leung released a statement on Wednesday addressing the new charges.

“This is another painful and heartbreaking day, but also a necessary step in our school’s journey as we learn the truth about the terrible incidents that happened on one of our teams, and rededicate ourselves to both immediate and long-term change.

The latest update comes on the same day that six of the seven students charged in the case appear in court.

Those six teens face sex assault and assault charges for an incident at the school that was caught on video. The six teens, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, were all released on bail after their first appearance in mid-November.

All seven students will be back in court on January 28.

What led to the arrests

On Nov. 12, St. Michael’s College School administration said it received a video of an alleged assault that took place in a boy’s washroom in the school. The video, which has been viewed by CityNews, shows a teen in his underwear in a sink being splashed with water and slapped on his bare skin by several boys. Later that same night the school received video of a second incident of an alleged group sexual assault in a school locker room involving a broomstick.

The following day, four students were expelled in connection with the first video. The school continued its internal investigation but police were not notified. However, school administration informed faculty and staff of both incidents.

On Nov. 15, police visited the school after CityNews contacted authorities about a possible incident at St. Michael’s College School, unrelated to the assault investigations. It was only when officers arrived at the school that they were told about the video showing the alleged sexual assault involving a broomstick.

Four days later, five boys turned themselves in to police. One was arrested while on his way to school. They are all facing charges of assault, gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon.

The next day, Toronto police told CityNews they were investigating two new incidents at the school and there were videos of both.

Amid the scandal, the school’s principal Greg Reeves and board president Jefferson Thompson resigned. The school has been criticized for not promptly reporting the alleged incidents to police.

After the alleged assaults were made public, former students came forward with their stories of bullying at St. Mike’s dating back decades.

St. Michael’s has since established a “respect and culture” review panel that is set to report its findings by the summer. A tip line for students to report any concerns or allegations was also set up.

The school also cancelled its football program for the next year, citing “problematic dynamics” on those teams.


Read Leung’s full statement below.

School responds to closing of police investigation and additional charges laid

“This is another painful and heartbreaking day, but also a necessary step in our school’s journey as we learn the truth about the terrible incidents that happened on one of our teams, and rededicate ourselves to both immediate and long-term change.

“We are grateful to the Toronto Police Service for identifying the suspects and concluding the investigation. We are committed to understanding why this behaviour happened and what led to it, and to putting measures in place to ensure it does not happen again. With last week’s appointment of the independent Respect and Culture Review committee and the release of our updated Action Plan, our resolve remains unwavering. The safety and well-being of our students remain our highest priorities and guiding principles.

“Our school community prays for everyone involved and their families during this difficult time.”

The school notes the following facts from today’s police announcement:

  • The police investigated eight incidents involving SMCS football and basketball players, all of which occurred in the current academic year. They decided to lay charges in three of the eight incidents, all pertaining to members of one of the football teams.
  • In these three incidents, seven boys have been charged. Six boys were charged on November 19th, and an additional one was charged today. The charges are the same as announced previously, but were extended to include two other incidents involving the same group of students.
  • No charges were laid against any administrator, faculty, staff member or coach.
  • The police investigation is now closed.
  • The school is now able to continue and complete its own investigation into student conduct, which was halted to avoid interference with the police investigation.
  • More information about the police investigation is available from the Toronto Police Service website.

 

Last week, the St. Michael’s College School Board of Directors appointed an independent committee that will conduct a comprehensive review of the school’s social and cultural practices and related policies, with a report due by the summer of 2019.

The school also released an update of its comprehensive Respect and Culture Action Plan. For more information, please visit smcsrespectandculture.com.


Related links

St. Mike’s principal, board president resign amid student sex assault scandal

Exploring the power dynamics in locker rooms

How the St. Michael’s College School sex assault scandal unfolded