“Large-scale transformations” may be in store from St. Michael’s College School’s social and cultural practices review underway after a number of its students were charged following assault incidents earlier this year. Photo by Michael Swan

St. Michael’s College School ponders a new future

By 
  • December 21, 2018

Radical changes at St. Michael’s College School are a genuine possibility, the superior general of the Basilian Fathers has told The Catholic Register.

As Toronto Police wrapped up their investigation into gang sexual assaults at St. Michael’s with six new charges and a seventh teen arrested, Fr. Kevin Storey indicated “large-scale transformations” of the private, Catholic boys’ school run by the Basilians could be on the table as a “social and cultural practices” review is conducted by a panel of experts.

Storey also said he was “pretty confident” the school and the Basilians will see a path forward now that the police investigation is concluded.

For now, Storey is holding back from more specific comments about the future of St. Michael’s.

“I want to give the independent committee the space to do what they need to do,” he said in a Dec. 20 e-mail, referring to the four-member committee created in the wake of the investigation. It is expected to make recommendations by the summer.

At a Dec. 19 press conference, Toronto Police Inspector Dominic Sinopoli, commander of the the sex crimes unit, said he did not believe St. Michael’s has a “systemic” issue with sexual abuse or abuse in general.

“We have no information to suggest any of the teachers, any of the teaching staff were aware of any of these instances,” he said. 

Police have not received reports of any historical physical or sexual abuse at St. Michael’s College School.

Having identified about 80 witnesses and conducted around 60 interviews, the investigation into assaults is complete, but the police are still looking into video recordings of the assaults and distribution of the cell phone video.

“We are still actively investigating the fact that the original sexual assault was both videotaped and subsequently distributed,” Sinopoli said.

He told media there is evidence suggesting people are still in possession of the video and may have tried to upload it to social media. Police had previously warned the St. Michael’s student body the videos would be classified as child pornography.

“We will be relentless in this regard,” he said. “Altering or cropping the video does not change the digital identifiers of the video. You will be caught. You will be charged. As I have stated, the video and its distribution is a constant reminder to victims of the trauma they have endured. In many ways, this could be far more detrimental than the assault itself.”

Police investigated eight separate incidents at the school, which all occurred this academic year and involved members of the football team. Three of the incidents are now proceeding as criminal matters. They include two alleged gang assaults and an alleged assault with a weapon. According to police, the alleged gang sex assault happened on Oct. 17 and Nov. 7, both in the school’s locker room. An alleged assault with a weapon took place Sept. 19, according to police.

Six students were charged on Nov. 19 with gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault.

Five students were charged Dec. 19 with gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon. Four of the five had been previously charged on Nov. 19 in connection with the Oct. 17 incident. 

All of the students charged are between 14 and 15 years old. Their identities are protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

There are no grounds to charge former St. Mike’s principal Greg Reeves under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act for a delay in reporting the incidents to police.

“We have consulted with several assistant crown attorneys who have confirmed that no charges are warranted,” Sinopoli said.

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