TORONTO — Three former students of a prestigious Toronto private school pleaded guilty Thursday in a sex assault scandal that rocked the all-boys Catholic institution last year.
The teens, who attended St. Michael’s College School, each pleaded guilty to one count of sex assault with a weapon and one count of assault with a weapon. One of them also pleaded guilty to making child pornography.
Crown attorney Erin McNamara read out an agreed statement of facts in youth court, saying a member of one of the football teams walked into the locker room after practice on Oct. 17, 2018, and heard a “roar” of teammates chanting “eh.”
The teen tried to run, she said, but “a mob ... took him down.”
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Three teens held their teammate and pulled his pants down, while another smacked him on the buttocks with his hand. Then one teen sexually assaulted him with a broom handle while another teammate captured the incident on video, which was later deleted at the request of the victim.
On Nov. 7, a similar incident occurred after a game once the coaches had left the locker room, the Crown said.
In that incident, another teen — who was not on the football team — came into the locker room looking for a ride home.
“Get him,” one of the players yelled, according to the statement of facts, then three took the victim to the ground and held him as two others ripped off his clothes and flipped him over on to his stomach.
One teen then sexually assaulted the victim with a broom handle before another grabbed the handle and also sexually assaulted him.
The victim “struggled and yelled to stop,” McNamara said.
Another teen captured that entire incident on video, court heard, and the video was shared around the school.
Police said they launched an investigation last fall after they learned about the video.
Seven students, who can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, were eventually charged with assault and sexual assault relating to three alleged incidents involving members of one of the school’s football teams.
The sexual assault and assault charges against a fourth student were withdrawn in August. The cases of two other students accused in the scandal have concluded, but the Ministry of the Attorney General has refused to disclose those outcomes, citing provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The last student facing charges has a court hearing scheduled for Oct. 17.
St. Michael’s is run by the Basilian Fathers, a community of priests with roots dating back to the Congregation of St. Basil in France. The school’s principal and its board president resigned amid criticism of its handling of the case.
The investigation touched off a national discussion about bullying and hazing in Canadian schools. Many alumni came forward with their own stories of abuse at the Catholic school, while others spoke about their positive memories of the institution.
An independent committee set up to examine the culture at St. Michael’s found that bullying remained a ``systemic″ problem despite extensive measures taken by the school in wake of the scandal. It also found that hazing was not a problem.
The committee issued a 123-page report in August that offered 36 recommendations, including developing a comprehensive strategy to address bullying and robust staff training to deal with the issue. The school promised to adopt all the recommendations.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 3, 2019.