Three former St. Michael’s College School students who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a student with a broomstick in a locker room in November 2018 are set to be sentenced Thursday.
The teens also pleaded guilty to assaulting another student with a broomstick the previous month. One of the three also pleaded guilty to making child pornography for filming the November sexual assault with his cellphone.
In a sentencing hearing last month, prosecutor Erin McNamara said a custodial sentence is appropriate for the teens, stressing that the attack was done as a group, that the victim was held down so he could not defend himself against the sexual assault, and that the attack was filmed and shared on social media.
She also partially read a victim impact statement from the parents of one of the two victims, in which they describe the lasting trauma their son carries. The boy was unable to even write his own statement, they wrote, because it is too hard to confront what happened to him.
McNamara asked for a sentence of 12 to 15 months in custody followed by 18 months probation for two of the teens and, for the other, 10 to 12 months in jail followed by 18 months of probation.
Defence lawyers are seeking a sentence of 24 months of probation for all three teens, arguing that jail time would impede the progress they have made toward rehabilitation.
None of the youths can be named under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The principles of the act require custodial sentences to be a last resort for convicted youth.
The sentencing concludes all but one of the criminal cases linked to the October and November incidents. One teen is set to go to trial on those charges next year.
The timeline of the St. Mike’s sex assault case
Sept. 18, 2018 — A student is assaulted with a broomstick: According to an agreed statement of facts later presented in court the victim, a St. Mike’s student said he was surrounded by a group of teens chanting “ehhhhhh” in the school locker room and then assaulted. The boy was picked up by his arms and legs and swung around and then he was held down and his pants were pulled down. He heard a chant of “get the broom” and was struck hard several times. A video of the incident went viral at the school. Two students were charged with assault with a weapon and assault over the attack, but those charges were withdrawn.
Oct. 17, 2018 — The same student is sexually assaulted with a broomstick: According to the agreed statement of facts, the same victim as in the September attack was in the locker room again and heard the same loud chanting. He tried to run but someone tripped him. He was held down, his pants were pulled down and he was sexually assaulted with the broomstick multiple times. When he got up he saw the group of teens gathered around one teen holding a cellphone. The teen with the phone asked the victim if he wanted to see the video. He said no and begged him to delete it, which the teen did.
The Crown cannot prove who used the broomstick to sexually assault the victim in this incident. Five teens were initially charged with sexual assault with a weapon, gang sexual assault and assault in connection with this incident. Three pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon, but denied using the broomstick to sexually assault the victim. The charges were withdrawn for one of the teens. One teen is proceeding to trial on a charge of assault with a weapon.
Nov. 7, 2018 — Another student is sexually assaulted with a broomstick: A different victim came to the locker room after a big win by a football team to ask a friend for a ride home, according the agreed statement of facts. The student heard one of the teens say: “get him” and he was grabbed and held down by a group of teens. One started filming the sexual assault on a cellphone. As the student struggled and yelled at them to stop, two teens tore at his clothing. He was sexually assaulted with a broomstick multiple times by three teens as the crowd around him screamed and yelled. The video of the sexual assault was shared around the school and on social media.
Six St. Mike’s students were initially charged with sexual assault with a weapon, gang sexual assault and assault. Three pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon for this incident. One of the three also pleaded guilty to making child pornography for filming it. The charges were withdrawn against one of the teens and another entered a guilty plea. One teen, the same as in the Oct. 17 incident, is set to go to trial on the charges.
Nov. 12, 2018 — School administration becomes aware of the video of the Nov. 7 locker-room sex assault: Earlier in the day, the administration became aware of a separate 49-second video, shot in the boys’ washroom, showing a young boy in his underwear — he appears not to be injured — placed in a large sink by other boys, who splash water on him and slap him. No charges were laid in connection with this incident. The school conducted an internal investigation and notified police. Later that evening, administrators became aware of the Nov. 12 locker-room video.
Nov. 13, 2018 — St. Mike’s internal investigation continues: Four students are expelled over to the washroom video. The Nov. 7 locker-room sexual assault continues to be internally investigated as involved students and parents are interviewed.
Around 11 a.m. on Nov. 14, 2018 — St. Mike’s notifies police about the locker-room sexual assault: However, the police had already been told about the video by the media, as the video was still being circulated on social media. After the school’s internal investigation, four students were expelled over the incident. Meanwhile, the school began to face serious criticism for the delay in reporting the incident to the police.
Nov. 18, 2018 — St. Mike’s announces sweeping internal review of culture and practices at the school, to be led by an independent committee: The review was to “examine the traditions, rituals, and social practices of students at every grade level and in all areas of school life,” and issue recommendations that will be implemented in the 2019-2020 academic year, the school said in a news release.
Get more of today’s top stories in your inbox
Sign up for the Star’s Morning Headlines email newsletter for a briefing of the day’s big news.
Nov. 19, 2018 — Six former students are arrested and charged with gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault: The charges are all linked to the Nov. 7 locker-room sex assault. The boys are all released on bail later that day.
Nov. 22, 2018 — St. Mike’s principal Greg Reeves and school president Father Jefferson Thompson resign: The resignations followed intense criticism over the administration’s handling of the alleged assaults and sexual assaults on campus.
Dec. 19, 2018 — Police lay charges in the Sept. 18 assault and Oct. 17 sexual assault: Four of the previously charged teens were charged again and a seventh boy arrested and charged in connection to the Oct. 17 sexual assault. In a press conference, police say they investigated a total of eight incidents in connection with the all-boys school, and have laid charges in three. In total, police identified about 80 witnesses and conducted about 60 interviews in their investigation.
June 26, 2019 — One teen pleads guilty over the Nov. 7 sexual assault: He is sentenced to 24 months probation.
July 11, 2019 — Charges are withdrawn for one teen charged in connection with the Oct. 17 sexual assault.
Aug. 7, 2019 — Charges are withdrawn for one teen charged over the Nov. 7 sexual assault: The Crown said there is no reasonable prospect of conviction.
Aug. 15, 2019 — The internal culture review ordered by St. Mike’s is released: The review found that bullying is a “systemic issue” at the school, though it is similar to other comparable schools across the country. The report made several recommendations including that more female staff and faculty be hired.
Oct. 3, 2019 — Three teens plead guilty: The now-former St. Mike’s students pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon in connection to the Nov. 7 sexual assault and assault with a weapon in connection to the Oct. 17 sexual assault. No charges were pleaded to in connection with the September assault. One of the teens also pleads guilty to making child pornography for videoing the Nov. 7 sexual assault on his cellphone.
Nov. 11, 2019 — One of the two victims files a $1.65-million lawsuit alleging St. Mike’s failed to keep him safe: The lawsuit names St. Michael’s College School, its board, three former students and the Basilian Fathers who run the school, as well as some coaches and administrators, as defendants.
Nov. 14, 2019 — The three teens have a sentencing hearing: Court heard the Crown is seeking jail time for all three, while the defence lawyers say a two-year probation period is appropriate.
With files from May Warren and Isabel Teotonio