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TCDSB principal accused of failing to act on student's sexual assault allegation

A family is speaking out claiming the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) failed to act when a 13-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by a group of teenaged boys on school property.

CityNews is not identifying the school in order to protect the identity of the 13-year-old girl and the minors involved in the alleged assault.

The incident happened on Oct. 9, the Friday before the Thanksgiving long weekend.

The student says immediately after the assault, she alerted the school’s principal, but the principal did not take immediate action, not even notifying the girl’s parents.

“I was in shock. I was uncomfortable. I’m still in shock.”, said the student, whose identity CityNews is not revealing.

The student says she was lining up outside during recess when a male student pushed a boy onto her.

She says the student then “humped” her. “He just did it fast and then he left. He went running, laughing,” said the female student. “I was in shock. I was uncomfortable. I’m still in shock.”

The student says she notified the principal of the incident and the principal said they would talk to the boys. She then went to the washroom in tears and called her older brother who showed up at her school.

The 13-year-old says the principal wouldn’t tell her brother, who is in his 20s, what action they would take with the boys, saying they would investigate. The brother left but the family says at no point during the day or over the weekend did the principal notify them of the alleged assault.

The girl’s eldest brother says the family reported the incident to police on Saturday morning. That investigation has since been completed and no charges were laid.

The 13-year-old girl, accompanied by a brother and her mother, met with the principal on the following school day, Tuesday Oct. 13, seeking information about the school’s perceived lack of action.

There, the family recorded audio of the meeting which CityNews has obtained. The recording is roughly 45 minutes long and exposes some shocking exchanges between the principal and the student’s family, whose first language is not English.

At one point, her brother asks: “Why weren’t we called?” to which the principal replies “I don’t understand the question.”

“Why weren’t my parents called?” he says again. The principal responds: “Because her (other) brother came in.”

When asked how he felt during the meeting, the eldest brother said he felt like they were treating us like we were stupid.

“How do you talk to the parent that way and say, ‘I don’t know what that means,’ I don’t understand the question,” he added.

In another exchange, her mother asks if the boys involved in the alleged assault are still at school to which the principal replies, “Yeah, they’re here today.” Her brother asks if the principal spoke to the boys’ parents and the principal replies, “I’m not allowed to tell you. That’s confidential.”

The family says it wasn’t an isolated incident. The student says the bullying and explicit sexual threats first began when she was in Grade 6 – two years ago.

“I’ve been feeling uncomfortable, not safe, really emotional because of them. And knowing that they wouldn’t do anything about it is very like — like they don’t care.”

In another exchange during the meeting, the principal denies ever hearing about the previous instances of bullying and questions the student about whether she really did report it – asking questions like “what did I say to you?” and “how many times did you tell me about it?”

TCDSB said in a statement they take all incidents related to sexual assault very seriously and confirmed they did not begin an investigation until four days after the assault occurred. The two boys involved were suspended for two days the following week.

According to a 2016 presentation to TCDSB trustees, the protocol for any incident of sexual assault requires mandatory reporting to police.

According to the board’s own website, any student who engages in sexual assault or bullying should be immediately suspended while the school conducts an investigation to determine if that student should be expelled.

TCDSB said in a statement they take all incidents related to sexual assault very seriously and confirmed they did not begin an investigation until four days after the assault occurred. The two boys involved were suspended for two days the following week.

They also confirmed that they were aware of the incidents of sexual harassment reported over the previous two years.

Both students and the female student are back at school. It’s unclear if any further action will be taken.

TCDSB Suspension policy.pdf by CityNewsToronto