One of Toronto’s most prestigious private schools has been rocked by the arrests of six students in relation to a video showing a graphic alleged sexual assault in a locker room that was taped and shared on social media.
On Tuesday, with St. Michael’s College School facing questions about when administrators knew about the incident and how they responded, news of more videos surfaced, bringing the total number of incidents Toronto police are now investigating to six.
Here’s what we know, what we don’t know and what we can’t report about the growing scandal at St. Mike’s.
This Star will continue to update this file as the story develops.
WHAT WE KNOW
That police are investigating six incidents in connection with the all-boys school, four involving video: Two of the videos were circulating on social media before police became aware of them. One involves an alleged gang sexual assault in a locker room, the other an alleged assault in a school washroom.
Police on Tuesday described one of the two other videos as showing an assault with a belt and the other as showing “threatening.”
Police have not released details of the two incidents that do not involve video.
That six boys, all young teens, were arrested and charged with assault, gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon in relation to the locker room video, and were released on bail: Five of the boys turned themselves in to police and one was arrested on his way to school on Monday, according to Toronto police Insp. Domenic Sinopoli.
All six were released Monday with their parents as sureties. Two of the teens were released on $7,000 bail, the other four on $5,000 bail. Their conditions of release include not contacting or being near the alleged victim, not going to St. Mike’s and only using social media with the “direct and constant supervision” of their sureties.
The contents of the locker room video: The 22-second video, which has been viewed by the Star, shows a teen boy being held down by a group of boys while he is allegedly sexually assaulted with what appears to be a broomstick.
The Star does not possess this video, which police have warned constitutes child pornography.
The contents of the washroom video: The 49-second video, also viewed by the Star, shows a teen boy in his underwear placed in a large sink by other boys who splash water on him and slap him. The boy in the sink appears not to be physically injured in the incident. He is not the same boy as the alleged victim in the locker room video.
The Star does not possess this video.
That both videos were circulating on social media before police became involved.
When St. Mike’s says it first learned of the incidents: According to a detailed timeline released by the school, administrators said they first received the washroom video on the morning of Nov. 12, and the locker room video later that evening.
Later, in a Sunday interview with the Star, school principal Greg Reeves said he learned of a third incident, also involving a locker room, from the mother of a student on Nov. 15. It is unclear if this incident is one of the six police are investigating.
It that same interview, Reeves said he had also received another video that day and forwarded it to police without viewing it. It is unclear whether police are investigating this video.
On Tuesday, the school said it on Sunday forwarded two digital files to police without viewing their contents. It is unclear whether police are investigating these files.
When St. Mike’s says it first contacted police about the incidents: According to the school’s timeline, St. Mike’s told police about the washroom video on Nov. 12, the day it was received, and the locker room video on Nov. 14, more than a day after it was received, “upon completion of its internal investigation.”
In his Sunday interview with the Star, Reeves said he turned the locker room video over to police around 11 a.m. on Nov. 14. According to police, media had by that point already contacted police about the video.
Why St. Mike’s says it took a day to contact police over the locker room video: According to its timeline, the school told police about the video after: “identifying, notifying and interviewing all students involved and their parents”; informing faculty and staff; notifying families involved “that police will be contacted”; expelling four students and completing its internal investigation.
“My whole decision-making process went around the protection of the victim,” Reeves told the Star in the Sunday interview. “What gives me some solace, because I know I’m receiving some critique about that, is the parents of the victim are very pleased with my timelines … They at least heard it from the school principal, as opposed to police.”
At a Monday news conference at the school, Reeves said he had not called police about the locker room video before police came to the school on Nov. 14 — but was always intending to call them.
Why and when police say they got involved: Sinopoli told reporters on Monday that Reeves called police on Nov. 12 — the day the school says it received both the washroom and locker room videos — “seeking advice about a hazing incident.” Sinopoli said Reeves was advised on how the student could engage police services and no further action was taken.
On Nov. 14, an officer went to St. Mike’s after the police communications team received information that there were “a number of expulsions” taking place at the school, Sinopoli told a separate Monday news conference.
Before the officer arrived, the police media team received “further information from the media indicating that the expulsions were in relation to a sexual assault involving an object,” Sinopoli said.
When asked by reporters whether the school should have immediately contacted police about the locker room video, Sinopoli replied, “yes.”
That the school has expelled at least eight students and suspended one: According to St. Mike’s timeline, which was released before the arrests, the school expelled four students and suspended one over the washroom video and expelled four students over the locker room video.
It is unclear if the school has since expelled or suspended any more students.
What St. Mike’s says it is doing to address the incidents: The school on Sunday announced it has launched a comprehensive independent review of student culture. The review will “examine the traditions, rituals, and social practices of students at every grade level and in all areas of school life,” and will issue recommendations that will be implemented in the 2019-2020 academic year, the school said in a news release.
The review will be led by a three-member independent committee of “prominent citizens” who don’t have any connection to the school, Reeves told reporters.
In its timeline, the school said it had taken several other steps to address the incidents, including: reaching out to support alleged victims; bringing in crisis counsellors for students, staff and faculty; holding assemblies for students; bringing in security to address threats to the school; meeting with parents and members of the junior football team; and holding information meetings with parents.
That police say they are not currently investigating similar incidents at any other schools.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
We don’t know how long the washroom and locker room videos were circulating on social media, nor how many people have seen them.
We don’t know much about the two videos police announced Tuesday: The Star has not seen them and does not know more than the brief descriptions provided by police that one involved an assault with a belt and the other “threatening.” We don’t know where and when they were filmed, or if the alleged victims are different from those in the washroom and locker room videos — though Sinopoli said police believe they are.
We don’t know how police got those two videos: St. Mike’s says it handed over two new videos on Sunday, but it’s unclear if those are the same ones being investigated by police.
We don’t know whether the boys who were charged in relation to the locker room video have all been expelled or suspended by the school: In its timeline, which was released before the boys were arrested, St. Mike’s said it had expelled four students over the locker room video. As six boys were arrested in relation to that video, it’s unclear if any of them were among the four students who were earlier expelled over the washroom video.
WHAT WE CAN’T REPORT
We can’t report the identities of the boys allegedly involved in the locker room video: The identities of the alleged victim and the six boys who were charged in relation to the video are all protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which prevents the Star from reporting any details about the boys or the incident that could identify them.
We can’t report several details about the locker room video that are covered by a publication ban: The Star is also bound to a publication ban that prohibits reporting any information introduced during the six boys’ bail hearing on Monday.
With files from Isabel Teotonio and Alyshah Hasham
May Warren is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @maywarren11