The family of a man who was killed in an alleged “swarming” attack by a group of teen girls in downtown Toronto last month is slamming the youth justice system, saying the alleged perpetrators should not have privacy rights or bail.
The family of 59-year-old Ken Lee sent a statement to Global News, which said that he was a “kind soul with a heart of gold.”
Lee, who was homeless at the time of his death, was allegedly stabbed by eight teen girls in the York Street and University Avenue area. Emergency crews were called to the scene around 12:17 a.m. on Dec. 18.
The family statement said Lee was not in the city’s shelter system due to alcohol or drug abuse.
“He was a man with pride who had fallen and wanted to learn to stand up on his own, knowing that he always had his family behind him,” it said.
Three 13-year-old girls, three 14-year-old girls and two 16-year-old girls have each been charged with second-degree murder. They can’t be identified due to a provision in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The allegations against the teens haven’t been proven in court.
One of the teen girls has since been released on bail.
During her court appearance last month, the girl was led into the courtroom in handcuffs, wearing a face mask and a black hoodie. She appeared impassive as Judge Maria Sirivar read out the conditions of her bail.
She must not have a cell phone, is not allowed to leave the province, use the internet except for online schooling or have any contact with the co-accused, is not allowed to be outside unless with her surety, may attend school but not leave the school building, is not allowed to have any weapons and must surrender her passport.
Her bail was set at $9,500 with two sureties.
In their statement, Lee’s family slammed what they called the “flaws” in the youth criminal justice system, saying the YCJA “protects the criminal youths and not the victims or the public.”
“In one of the declaration principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the youth justice system is intended to protect the public,” the statement said.
“How is the (Youth Criminal Justice) Act protecting the public if we don’t know who these perpetrators are and why they are released on bail? As a parent, my question to the lawmakers who wrote the Youth Criminal Justice Act is: how are you protecting my child if the perpetrator cannot be named and she could be in my child’s school or class?
“For serious crimes, these perpetrators should not have any privacy rights or bail.”
The statement said the public should be aware of who the suspects are to protect themselves and to possibly bring forth additional victims or evidence.
“I don’t believe I have to remind the public of recent individuals who were given bail and they went on to commit more offences,” the statement concluded.
The seven other teens remain in custody and have hearings scheduled in the coming days.
— With files from Tracy Tong and Ashleigh Stewart
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