Victim in St. Michael’s College School sex assault plans lawsuit

By 
  • October 18, 2019

The victim of a gang sexual assault in a St. Michael’s College School locker room and his family plan to file a $1.65-million lawsuit against the school, according to documents filed in Ontario Superior Court.

The victim and his family, who are not named in the documents, are suing the school, three former students, the school’s board, the Basilian Fathers who run St. Mike’s, the coaches of the junior football team and administration. The teen, a former student and member of the football team, is referred to as John Doe in court documents. He alleges that the bullying and sexual assault he suffered at the hands of other members of the team in the fall of 2018 have left him struggling with depression and mental health issues.

The school had no comment on the court documents.

Earlier this month, three former students — who were among seven originally charged and expelled or left the school in the wake of the  incidents coming to light — pleaded guilty in a Toronto courtroom for their role in the assault. One of the boys also pled guilty to making child pornography for filming the incident where the victim was assaulted with a broom handle, which was shared widely on social media. 

The victim himself was “improperly charged” in relation to a similar assault on a second victim at the school, said the court documents, but those charges were withdrawn in August. The boys’ parents are suing the school to recover legal expenses. 

The cases against two others have concluded but the outcomes are unknown. A judge’s order would be needed to make the result public. One student’s case remains unresolved.

The incidents drew national media attention to the prestigious, midtown Toronto school and led to the resignations of principal Greg Reeves and board president Fr. Jefferson Thompson. The junior football and senior basketball programs were suspended though the basketball program was soon reinstated, as was the football program in June.

It also prompted a review of the culture at the school, which was released to the public Aug. 15. The four-person review committee concluded bullying is a systemic issue, though no more so than with similar schools across Canada, and made 36 recommendations to address the issue. 

St. Michael’s has already begun implementing plans to combat bullying, including development of a comprehensive bullying prevention and intervention strategy, a review of policies and guidelines and a reorganization of the athletic and co-curricular programs. These efforts involves students, parents, alumni and other school stakeholders.

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