St. Michael’s College releases timeline of events amid assault investigation, 8 students expelled
WARNING: This story contains disturbing content.
St. Michael’s College has released a timeline of their version of events in a letter to parents amid an assault investigation at the all-boys private school in Toronto.
Parents have also been invited to attend one of two town hall meetings being held at the school on Friday.
Before the timeline breakdown, the letter calls the situation “unacceptable” and says it “falls far short of upholding the principles we strive to live by.”
“We understand and share the anger and distress that such horrible acts could happen on our school grounds involving boys in our care,” the letter reads.
The investigation began Wednesday after media alerted Toronto police to a video that appeared to show a group of teens attempting to sodomize another boy with a broomstick in a locker room. The school said it became aware of the video Monday evening.
WATCH: St. Michael’s College, a prestigious all-boys private Catholic school in Toronto, has reported a third “incident” to police, amid investigations into sexual assaults involving students at the facility. Mike Drolet has the newest developments.
Police issued a statement Wednesday evening saying the video content “meets the definition of child pornography.”
“Anyone who has this video is in possession of child pornography. The video must be deleted immediately and cannot be shared with anyone,” the statement said.
Officers from 13 Division and the Child & Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC) are conducting the investigation into the alleged assaults. In a statement released Friday, police said they are investigating incidents of “alleged assaultive and sexually assaultive behaviour.”
They said they believe there may be more victims and witnesses. They encouraged anyone with information to contact police.
The first incident follows another video police were informed of, by the school principal, on Monday morning. In that online video, a boy can be seen being slapped around and dunked in what appears to be a sink in a washroom.
The letter from the school said the incidents led to eight students being expelled and another suspended. Four students were expelled after each incident. The suspension came in regard to the locker room incident.
St. Michael’s said it turned over all information, including the locker room video, to police on Wednesday once it completed its internal investigation.
The school also said it was made aware of a third incident on Thursday and alerted police. There is no further information in regard to what took place.
WATCH: Police investigating multiple ‘occurrences’ of assault, sexual assault at St. Michael’s College School. Jamie Mauracher reports.
On Thursday afternoon a threat was made against St Michael’s, increasing the presence of police at the school. St. Michael’s also issued a statement saying they have added security on campus for the “foreseeable future.”
On Friday, police remained on site.
Kyle Fraser went to St. Michael’s between 2009 and 2013. He told Global News on Friday that getting into the school was a “dream.” Fraser asked his parents to transfer out after Grade 10 due to bullying. He wound up completing Grades 11 and 12 at another high school in Scarborough.
“I didn’t tell them (his parents) about the bullying. I honestly stayed quiet about that,” he said, adding he told his parents the school “wasn’t the right fit for him.”
“Kids are scared to say something. They’re worried that it might affect their goals long term or the bullying is going to get worse.”
Fraser recalled a time a teacher was sympathetic towards him when he was being bullied in class by a student who would not stop kicking his chair. The teacher, Fraser said, was aware the kids were bullying him and moved him to the other side of the room.
“Besides that, I couldn’t go to higher administration and say anything because they would just push it under the rug,” he said.
Fraser described St. Michael’s as having a “toxic culture.” He said he would go into each day with the mentality of it being a new day but “it just kept getting worse and worse and after Grade 10, I eventually had enough and I left.”
LISTEN: Two mothers discuss an alleged group assault that happened inside St. Michael’s CollegeView link »
WATCH: How technology, social media can amplify bad behaviour
He said he believes the school is well aware of the issue of bullying.
“The school wants to handle all of that on the inside. They don’t want their reputation getting tarnished. They don’t want even one incident getting out to the media or to the parents or any of those future hopefuls, according to St. Mike’s,” Fraser said.
“One bad reputation or one bad incident is going to leave a mark on them for years and they don’t want that. So they definitely turn a blind eye and sweep it under the rug.”
He said to this day, the bullying he faced still deeply impacts him.
“It’s very hurtful,” Fraser said.
A family lawyer who went to St. Michael’s as a teen, John Schuman, told Global News on Thursday that he’s had cases in recent years, as well as in the current year, about bullying at the school.
Schuman said he wasn’t surprised that the alleged incidents took place but rather he was surprised that word of the situation “got out.”
“I heard about the same sort of stuff from other students in relation to sports teams but involving food items, and sausages, and other sorts of same type of thing.”
The lawyer said the school culture at St. Michael’s might be a “bit strong.”
Parents have the chance to hear from administration at 2 p.m. or 6 p.m.
WATCH: As Mike Drolet reports, there are troubling questions about how the school handled the case. And a warning, the details of this story are disturbing.
The school is known for its athletic programs. Alumni include hockey greats Frank Mahovlich, Dave Keon and Tim Horton. Track star and Olympic hopeful Justyn Knight also attended the school.
It is run by the Basilian Fathers with roots dating back to the Congregation of St. Basil in France that is a “fully independent, Catholic high school,” according to its website.
—With files from The Canadian Press
A look at the full letter sent to parents on Friday:
Dear St. Michael’s College School Community,
The events of this week have left our community shaken and heartbroken.
We understand and share the anger and distress that such horrible acts could happen on our school grounds involving boys in our care. It is unacceptable and falls far short of upholding the principles we strive to live by.
Our primary concern and focus is the care, safety, and well-being of our students. The process we followed was dictated by this guiding principle.
As school administrators and educators, we bear a heavy responsibility to help guide our students through a challenging period in their lives – when external forces are often in conflict with the notion of doing the right thing – and these incidents were a stark reminder that we have more work to do.
Our 166-year history of excellence in academics, arts, and athletics is built on the foundation of goodness, discipline, and knowledge. We intend to continue to honour and model these virtues.
An active police investigation, along with our efforts to rigorously follow due process and respect the confidentiality of all parties involved, have limited what we have been able to share and when.
There have been many questions about our handling of the matter and the sequence of events leading to the expulsion of eight students and one suspension resulting from two separate severe violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
The priority for the last three days has been on the victims, students, and our staff and faculty. We are now at the stage of the investigation where we are able to share the following information:
Monday, November 12
School Administration receives on Monday morning a video of the first incident (boys’ washroom) that severely violates the Student Code of Conduct
School begins an internal investigation by gathering in information and by interviewing students involved and their parents
School notifies police about the first incident
School Administration receives on Monday evening a video of a second incident (locker room) that severely violates the Student Code of Conduct
Tuesday, November 13
School continues an internal investigation into both incidents, which includes identifying, notifying, and interviewing all students involved and their parents.
School Administration expels four students related to the first incident (boys’ washroom).
School Administration informs faculty and staff of both incidents.
Wednesday, November 14
School Administration continues investigation of the second incident (locker room) by conducting interviews and notifying families involved that police will be contacted by the school.
School Administration expels four students related to the second incident (locker room).
School Administration suspends one student related to the first incident.
Upon completion of its internal investigation, School Administration provides information related to the second incident to police, and gives the second video (locker room) to police.
School Administration updates faculty, staff, and the student body (except Grade 9s) in an assembly, informing students of police directive to delete related videos in their possession.
School releases a statement to their community and the media.
Toronto Police issues a statement announcing that the second incident involves sexual assault allegations.
School Administration continues to reach out to victims to provide support.
Thursday, November 15
Police inform the school about a security threat and provide uniformed and plainclothes officers as extra security on campus.
Police respond with standard personnel required for a reported school threat.
In concert with police, School Administration determines the school is safe for all students.
Additional crisis counsellors brought in to provide counselling to students, faculty, and staff.
School Administration and faculty initiate homeroom visits to provide support.
School Administration continues to reach out to victims to provide support.
School Administration updates Grade 9 students in an assembly.
School Administration is made aware of a third incident and notifies police.
School updates its parent community.
School Administration and football coaches meet with parents and members of the Junior Football team.
Friday, November 16
Crisis counsellors and security remain on campus.
Security presence at the school continues for a second day.
School Administration to hold two information meetings for parents at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.