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

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

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School in Hazelton is being shut down for a week by the Gitanmaax Band Council following a confirmation of a COVID-19 exposure there on Feb. 26. (Black Press Media File Photo)
COVID-19 exposure notice shuts down Hazelton school

Closure to last for one week and school is to be sanitized

MacCarthy GM staff and customers raised $700 for Pink Shirt Day. (Submitted Photo/Mudit Mehta)
Terrace dealership raises hundreds of dollars for Pink Shirt Day

MacCarthy GM staff and customers raised $700 for anti-bullying initiatives

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

Most Read