Of the eight incidents Toronto Police have been investigating at St. Michael’s College School, criminal charges are being laid in three of them.
Inspector Domenic Sinopoli made the announcement at a news conference at police headquarters on December 19.
Following up on allegations that a boy was sexually assaulted with an object, six young persons were arrested on November 19 and charged with one count of assault, gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon.
This matter is before the court.
On December 19, two young persons were arrested and charged with one count of assault with a weapon and assault. They had been already charged as a result of the first sexual assault on November 19.
In relation to another reported sexual assault, five young persons were arrested on December 19 and charged with one count of assault, gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon. Four of the five young persons were already charged as a result of the earlier sexual assault on November 19.
Police investigated five other incidents and found there weren’t grounds for criminal charges to be laid or the complainants did not wish to proceed with the investigation.
Sinopoli said investigators identified about 80 witnesses and conducted about 60 interviews.
“There are no interviews outstanding,” he said. “I can also advise that we are still actively investigating the fact that the original sexual assault was both videotaped and subsequently distributed.”
Despite warnings that the continued distribution or publishing of these videos will be treated very seriously, Sinopoli said there is credible evidence suggesting that individuals are still in possession of the video and/or have made attempts to upload it on social media.
“We will be relentless in this regard,” he said. “Altering or cropping the video does not change the digital identifiers of the video. You will be caught. You will be charged,” Sinopoli says. “As I have stated, the video and its distribution is a constant reminder to victims of the trauma they have endured. In many ways, this could be far more detrimental than the assault itself.”
On November 12, St. Michael’s College School Principal Gregory Reeves called 13 Division seeking advice about a hazing incident he had learned about.
He was advised on how the student could engage police services, and no further action was taken.
Two days later, Toronto Police Corporate Communications received information from the media that there were a number of expulsions at the school that were believed to be related to an unrelated occurrence at 13 Division.
Five of the youths turned themselves into police and one was arrested on his way to school on November 19. The charges relate to the sexual assault that police learned about on November 14 and believe happened this school year.
Sinopoli said Reeves, who resigned as principal last month, will not be charged.
“After a thorough investigation, we don’t believe we have grounds to lay any charges in relation to his duty to report under the Child, Youth & Family Services Act,” he said. “We have consulted with several Assistant Crown Attorneys who have confirmed that no charges are warranted.”
Since the reporting of the incident and the unprecedented media attention, Sinopoli said police have not received any reports of historical physical or sexual abuse.
“As I have stated before, we are only investigating matters that involve criminal behaviour,” he added. “Incidents involving hazing type behaviour are and continue to be conduct issues which are at the discretion of the school to investigate as they did in the first instance.”
Sinopoli thanked the Child & Youth Advocacy Centre investigators and partner agencies for their tireless work since the start of the investigation.
“These officers worked countless hours to bring some closure to the victims of these incidents,” he said.