Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Six teens were arrested and charged Monday in connection with an alleged sexual assault at an all-boys private school in Toronto as police said they were looking into more incidents and additional charges could follow.

Police said five teens, accompanied by their parents or lawyers, turned themselves in to police, while a sixth student was arrested on his way to school. They said the investigation continues into three other incidents — one an alleged sexual assault.

Insp. Dominic Sinopoli said the six boys who attended St. Michael’s College School each face charges of assault, gang sexual assault, and sexual assault with a weapon in connection with an incident that allegedly took place on campus and was captured on video.

“We have reason to believe there are more incidents and more videos,” Sinopoli told a news conference.

The school, whose failure to promptly report the alleged assault and sexual assault to authorities has come under criticism, said it supported the decision by police.

“We believe charges are absolutely appropriate in these circumstances,” the school said in a statement. “We will continue to work in full co-operation with the police as they continue their investigation and we are at their disposal.”

St. Michael’s, a Roman Catholic school that teaches grades 7 to 12 and is known for its athletics program, expelled eight students and suspended another one in connection with the alleged sexual assault in a locker room and another incident that police said involved hazing and was also captured on video.

Police sources have said the locker room incident involved a group of students on the football team pinning down another student and allegedly sexually assaulting him with a broom handle. Those sources said the hazing incident involved members of the basketball team bullying a student in the washroom and soaking him with water.

Sinopoli said Monday that the victim of the alleged sexual assault was doing OK.

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

READ MORE: Police probe several allegations of sex assault at Toronto school

READ MORE: Toronto private school didn’t report alleged sexual assault to police

Sinopoli said detectives were informed about the alleged sexual assault through the media on Wednesday. As a result, he said, an officer was dispatched to the school.

“Prior to arriving, Toronto police corporate communications received further information from the media indicating the expulsions were believed to be related to sexual assault involving an object,” he said. “When the officer arrived and after speaking with the principal, he confirmed expulsions…were in response to a video that showed or depicted a sexual assault.”

The school initially said it had informed police of two incidents, including the alleged sexual assault of a student, on Monday. However, the school’s principal, Greg Reeves, admitted in a series of media interviews on Sunday that he did not report the alleged sexual assault on Monday because the alleged victim had not yet told his family about the incident.

Sinopoli said the school should have reported the incident immediately.

A number of legal experts said that in Ontario, schools have an obligation under the Child and Family Services Act to report instances where a child aged 15 and under has been or could be sexually assaulted to the Children’s Aid Society.

The school has said the Children’s Aid Society was not contacted, and though the ages of the students involved in the alleged incidents are not known, sexual abuse lawyer Rob Talach said he would have expected the school to call child protective services.

“I would think as an educator you would err on the side of caution and say, ‘I’m not sure if everybody in there was over the age of 16, so I’m going to report it to CAS,’ and then CAS can bring in the police,” he said.

Sinopoli said the investigation has expanded and police are now looking into another case of sexual assault and two more alleged assaults involving at least four victims.

“More than 50 witnesses have been identified and more information comes to us daily,” Sinopoli said. “We also know there are several videos being circulated. We are in possession of these videos.”

He also called on students and any one in possession of the video of the alleged sexual assault to delete it immediately from their cellphones or other devices as the clip constituted child pornography.

“We are very concerned about the distribution of the videos on social media,” Sinopoli said. “The unintended consequences are far reaching and detrimental to the recovery of the victim.”

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.

Sinopoli acknowledged that tensions in the school were high due to the recent events. St. Michael’s principal was unable to attend the news conference Monday due to a security threat at the school.

Police said they 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.

Liam Casey and Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberni Farmers Institute offers slaughter training course

Alberni Valley residents interested in obtaining a Class D Slaughter License can take part

Spill response vessel arrives in Port Alberni

Base isn’t finished, but team is ready for emergencies

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

NIC practical nursing students hone skills on pandemic’s front line

‘It also has become clear that this is my thing,’ – NIC practical nursing student Breanna Patterson

Fisherman snags barracuda off Vancouver Island in rare encounter

Ferocious fish, not native to Canada, was netted and released in Alberni Inlet

Sources say Canada, U.S. likely to extend mutual travel ban into late August

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the possibility after a phone call with U.S. President

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Suspicious fire quenched before reaching gunpowder in Nanaimo’s historic Bastion

Probe underway in basement blaze that erupted near where powder stored to fire signature cannons

Most Read