Teen pleads not guilty to St. Mike’s locker room sex assaults as trial opens

The campus at St. Michael’s College School, seen here in a Nov. 19, 2018, file photo.

A former St. Michael’s College School student has pleaded not guilty to six charges including the gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a broomstick of two students in the fall of 2018.

The teen’s trial, which began in a Toronto courtroom Wednesday morning, is the only still-unresolved case involving seven students from the all-boys private school who were charged over two sexual assaults that took place in a locker-room at the private school. Charges were withdrawn against two students last year, and four entered guilty pleas and were sentenced to two years’ probation.

None of the teens, nor the victims, can be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The first set of charges laid against the teen in court Wednesday — gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault — stemmed from a cellphone video of a student being sexually assaulted with a broomstick by a group of teenagers in November 2018.

A second set of charges of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault were laid later over an October 2018 incident. A video of that incident was made and then deleted, according to the facts from the guilty plea of the teen who admitted to filming the sexual assault.

On Wednesday, the Crown’s first witness was the officer-in-charge of the case, Det. Const. Daniel Sunghing, who testified that the police investigation into the assaults began in November 2018 after media outlets that obtained the cellphone video notified police.

Court viewed a video of the empty locker-room, where a broomstick was found and seized by police.

The Crown also played security video from outside the locker-room before, during and after the period of time the November 2018 incident occurred. Sunghing identified a number of students the trial is expected to hear from as well as the complainant and the teen he believes to be the accused. The identity of the accused remains at issue in the trial. The identity of the complainant has been conceded by the defence.

The defence had sought to quash the charges for an Oct. 17, 2018, sexual assault, arguing that the teen could not have been present on that day. The Crown was permitted to file new charges, expanding the date range to Oct. 1, 2018 to Oct. 31, 2018, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The start of the trial was plagued with delays because the court equipment in the courtroom was unable to play the videos without repeatedly cutting out, sometimes after only a few seconds. Prosecutor Erin McNamara said the issue was an ongoing one for that courtroom and despite numerous complaints to the Ministry of the Attorney General, it has not been fixed.

The trial continues.

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