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TORONTO — A teen accused of sexually assaulting two students at a private all-boys Catholic school in Toronto had made hazing “more violent, more sexual,” another teen testified Monday.
The teen told virtual youth court that the accused had brought a “culture of hazing” into the football locker room, where two sexual assaults occurred in the fall of October and November 2018.
“It was more older guys picking on the newer guys, but once (he) came, it started to get more violent, more sexual in nature, people’s pants being pulled down and things like that,” the teen said in virtual court.
The accused teen has pleaded not guilty to two counts each of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon related to two incidents in which students were sexually assaulted with a broom handle. No young person can be named due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The testifying teen said he had seen an incident in the locker room in October where four students, including the accused, had been circling another teen.
They had begun chanting “eh, eh, eh, eh,” the sign that a hazing incident was about to occur.
“I just didn’t want to stick around to see what was up,” he said.
“I guess I had been a little lucky no one had really hazed me, if they’re done with him maybe they’ll come after me next, so I just kinda got out of there.”
The next morning, he said, “I heard this kid had been raped with a broom.”
It was the same teen victim who had been spanked on his bare buttocks with a broom in the locker room earlier in the season, he said.
The teen said the accused and two others tried to pull down his pants that fall, but they were unable to.
The testifying teen said he did not witness a second sexual assault with a broom handle after a game on Nov. 7, but heard about it the next morning after a video that captured the incident was shared on Snapchat.
The teen said he didn’t have Snapchat and did not see the video, but many students, including his teammates, were talking about it.
“It kind of swept across the school in the morning,” the teen said in a videotaped interview with police two weeks after the incident.
He said a lot of “football-style” hazing also occurred: roughhousing, jostling, shoving kids into lockers, throwing objects.
Then the so-called wedgies began, he said, shortly after the accused joined the team.
“It didn’t seem like much, it didn’t seem bad, but it was constant and when it kept on going you could kind of see something was wrong,” the teen testified.
Court heard the accused later quit the team, but still hung around the locker room.
Earlier, Kevin Shaughnessy, one of the team’s coaches, said he did not see the accused teen in the video of the Nov. 7 sexual assault.
Shaughnessy said he helped identify three people involved in the incident but none were the accused.
Shaughnessy said he first found out about the Nov. 7 incident when he was called into the principal’s office on Nov. 12 and shown a video that was being circulated among students.
The video, which was played in court in March 2020, when the trial began, shows a boy being sexually assaulted as others cheered and laughed.
The lead detective said at the time the accused was holding the victims’ hands. Last week, the school’s vice-principal testified that he recognized the accused holding down the arms of the victim.
Shaughnessy said he could only identify two people holding the victim down and a third wielding the broomstick. He said he saw the accused outside the locker room, but did not allow him in.
In December, court viewed two videos in which one of the complainants recounted the incidents to a police investigator.
In one video, he described being sexually assaulted with a broom handle by a group of students in the school’s locker room in October 2018.
In the second recording, he recalled seeing a group sexually assault another student in a similar way the following month, also in the locker room.
The complainant did not mention the accused when discussing the October incident, but alleged the teen held back the arms of the victim in the November assault.
The complainant was initially one of the suspects in the November 2018 incident, but the charges against him were dropped.
Three teens have pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon for their roles in the incidents and have been sentenced to two years of probation.
One of them also pleaded guilty to making child pornography for recording one of the sex assaults in a video that was then widely distributed.
Another student received a two-year probationary sentence with no jail time after pleading guilty. The charges against another student, aside from the one who testified, were withdrawn.