Warning: graphic content
Three years after media reports of a disturbing video circulating on social media led to a police investigation into a sexual assault in the locker room at St. Michael’s College School, ends the final criminal case on Tuesday.
A judge must decide whether one of the five teens who has committed the sexual assault will be the only one at risk of imprisonment or whether he should be sentenced to probation.
The teens, who were then students at the private school for all boys in Toronto, were all convicted of holding down and assaulting another teenager with a broomstick in the school locker room in November 2018, while surrounded by a group of several other cheering boys .
Two of the perpetrators of the attack admitted involvement in two similar past incidents earlier in September and October involving a broomstick, another student in the locker room and members of a football team. All three attacks were filmed by a student holding a cell phone, and in two cases, the video was widely shared on social media. In the second case, the student who took the video deleted it after the victim asked him to.
None of the teens can be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The incidents led to a broad discussion of physically and sexually violent ambiguity on sports teams, especially in high schools, with experts calling for a major shift in culture and accountability.
Four of the teens pleaded guilty in 2019 to charges, including gangs of sexual assault, and were sentenced to two years probation, a verdict the judge said took into account “the normalization of bullying and sexual bullying in school culture.” No adults, including coaches, were present in the room when the sexual assault took place.
The fifth teen had a trial that ended earlier this year after COVID-related delays and was also found guilty of gang sexual assault, although he claimed in his testimony that he only participated because he was afraid he would be exposed for next time.
The Crown is demanding a sentence of three months’ imprisonment, while the defense is asking for two years’ conditional imprisonment, in line with the other teenagers’ sentence.
The victim did not testify during the trial, and neither did the other teens who were found guilty. Instead, the Crown relied on a 30-second video of the sexual assault and testimony from other witnesses in the locker room.
The victim also did not provide a statement of consequences for the victim. At sentencing in 2019, his parents said he could not because he was unable to relive what happened. His parents described that he felt “helpless” and afraid that he would be affected by the attack for the rest of his life.
Although Tuesday’s hearing is expected to end the criminal case, there is an ongoing lawsuit against the school, the school’s former principal who resigned due to harsh criticism of the school’s handling of the sexual assaults, and the coaches filed by the victim for September and October. 2018 assault.