WARNING: This story contains graphic details which may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised.
Three youths accused in sexual assaults at St. Michael’s College School pleaded guilty to several charges during a court appearance Thursday morning.
Each of the three boys pleaded guilty to a count of sex assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon, while one of the boys also pleaded guilty to a charge of making child pornography.
They cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The youths were charged after three incidents that occurred between September and November of 2018 at the prestigious boys school near Bathurst Street and St. Clair Avenue.
The court heard the graphic details of the incidents Thursday though an agreed statement of facts.
In the first incident, which occurred on or around Sept. 18, 2018, a boy who was a part of the football team was attacked by teens who swarmed him, pulled down his pants and struck him with a broom in the school’s locker room.
It was videotaped and the video subsequently went viral.
On Oct. 17, the same boy was sexually assaulted with a broom in the locker room.
That incident was also recorded, but the victim begged for it to be deleted, which it was.
On Nov. 7, another boy was sexually assaulted with a broom after a championship football game at the school.
That incident, which also occurred in the locker room, was videotaped and went viral before coming to the attention of school administration.
“They took responsibility for their actions,” said Rachel Lichtman, a lawyer for one of the accused.
“We all need to remember that in Canada, we have a separate youth criminal justice system and that’s for a reason. And the reason for that is because we understand that a youth under the age of 18, their brain is not fully developed yet. They can’t always comprehend their behaviour themselves.”
St. Michael’s College School became embroiled in scandal last fall when allegations of group sexual assaults and bullying came to light.
In total, seven youths were charged in connection with the allegations.
Of those, one of the youths had charges withdrawn, while two others had their cases concluded without a public outcome.
The last student facing charges has a court appearance scheduled for Oct. 17.
The allegations touched off a national discussion about bullying and hazing in Canadian schools, while many alumni came forward with their own stories of abuse at the private school.
An independent committee was set up to examine the culture at the school and found that bullying was a “systemic” problem despite measures taken after the stories came to light.
However, it also found that hazing was not a problem.
“There were pleas entered today and in doing so they are saving the witnesses from having to testify,” said lawyer Jeff Mazin, who represents one of the boys who pleaded guilty Thursday.
“These are quite serious allegations. I understand that.”
– With files from Catherine McDonald and the Canadian Press