New charges laid in police probe into incidents at St. Michael’s College School

Six students previously charged with assault, gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon

An investigation into allegations of physical and sexual assault at a prestigious all-boys private school has led to multiple charges against a total of seven students, Toronto police said Wednesday.

Insp. Domenic Sinopoli, head of the force’s sex crimes unit, said investigators had concluded an ongoing probe into a total of eight incidents of alleged abuse at St. Michael’s College School, all involving members of the football program.

Sinopoli said that while police did not lay charges in five of the eight incidents because they were not conclusively criminal or because victims opted not to pursue the matter, a total of seven students now face charges in three incidents that allegedly took place on school grounds between September and November of this year.

Six students had previously been charged with assault, gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon in connection to a November incident that was captured on video.

Sinopoli said four of those students, plus one more, were arrested on Wednesday in an alleged sexual assault believed to have taken place on Oct. 17. Two of those previously charged are also accused of assault and assault with a weapon in a third incident that allegedly took place on Sep. 18.

“We do not have any evidence or complaints to suggest that this type of behaviour extended outside of this school year or involved anyone outside this small group of students,” he said.

“Our research into these incidents and our past dealings with the college did not suggest any trend that would lead someone to believe that this is an ongoing and systemic problem.”

Sinopoli said none of the school’s faculty or staff, including former principal Greg Reeves, are facing charges in the various incidents.

St. Michael’s issued a statement shortly after the police news conference expressing a commitment to eradicating such incidents in the future.

“This is another painful and heartbreaking day, but also a necessary step in our school’s journey as we learn the truth about the terrible incidents that happened, and rededicate ourselves to both immediate and long-term change,” interim president Rev. Andrew Leung said. ”We are committed to understanding why this behaviour happened and what led to it, and to putting measures in place to ensure it does not happen again.”

READ MORE: Former students share stories of bullying at St. Michael’s dating back decades

The sexual-assault scandal at the Catholic school garnered widespread public attention and led to the resignation of its top two officials.

St. Michael’s has since established a “respect and culture” review panel that is set to report its findings by the summer. A tip line for students to report any concerns or allegations was also set up.

The school also cancelled its football program for the next year, citing “problematic dynamics” on those teams.

Police said they had identified two alleged victims of sexual assault through their investigation who were both now receiving support.

Sinopoli said, however, that a video of one of the alleged incidents continues to circulate, causing ongoing trauma for the alleged victim. Police had previously stated that the video met the threshold for child pornography.

He said a video of the new suspected sexual assault may also exist, though police have not seen it.

The high-profile investigation has touched off an important conversation about school safety and appropriate conduct, Sinopoli said, noting it got underway only when a concerned student came forward to the school principal.

“This particular case has brought much-needed attention to this type of behaviour,” he said. “Physical and sexual abuse cannot be tolerated anywhere, let alone in schools where children should feel safe. Parents, students and teachers are all talking about this and of what is expected of them, and that is a good thing.”

With files from Nicole Thompson

Liam Casey and Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmon Arm! Burly boxer of arcade game fame calls Shuswap community home

Bear Hugger is one of the opponents players face in 2009’s Punch Out!!! for the Nintendo Wii.

Eugene the goat feared taken from Shuswap community

Nigerian Dwarf goat may have been picked up by a motorist

Deaths on popular Shuswap trail ruled accidental

B.C. Coroners Service reports on fatal falls in May and July 2019

Update: Highway 1 between Salmon Arm and Sicamous partially reopens

Westbound traffic delayed as crews recover a vehicle

Potholes plentiful in Salmon Arm’s industrial park

City says patching effort underway, residents can report potholes on city’s website

UPDATE: Protesters say they will maintain blockade near Chase “as long as it takes”

Goal is to see RCMP removed from Wet’suwet’en territory

Petition seeks to remove local police department from Lindsay Buziak murder case

American woman starts online petition in hopes of helping Buziak family

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

‘Chain reaction pile up’ closes southbound traffic on Coquihalla Highway

Black Press Media has reached out to RCMP, paramedics for details

Federal minister to speak in North Okanagan

Greater Vernon Chamber welcomes middle class prosperity minister to talk money

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

EDITORIAL: Thoughtless posts to Facebook cause real harm and stress

At the risk of resembling a broken record, it needs to be… Continue reading

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Most Read