Police now investigating two more incidents at St. Mike's amid scandal
Kayla Goodfield, CP24.com
Published Thursday, December 13, 2018 2:26PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 13, 2018 3:58PM EST
Toronto police have confirmed they are investigating two additional incidents connected to St. Michael’s College School, which has recently been rocked by allegations of assault and sexual assault among students.
Police had previously said they were investigating a total of six incidents at the school, but now confirm they are looking into eight incidents.
The update from police comes just hours after the interim president of the school spoke to reporters over the phone on Thursday afternoon about how the school and the student body have been coping with the scandal.
Father Andrew Leung explained that more students had come forward since allegations of sexual assault and assault first surfaced, prompting the cancellation of basketball and football programs at the school.
“Since we asked people to come forward with their stories we have heard about various incidents in the recent past,” he said. “When necessary we have shared that information with the police and this information along with the concern we have heard about the overall dynamics of these teams contributed to our decision with the cancellations.”
Eight students have been expelled from the school in connection with these incidents,and six students have been formally charged by the Toronto Police Service in connection with one of the alleged sexual assaults.
The six students face charges of sexual assault, gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon.
The identities of the students are protected under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
None of the charges have been proven in court.
The junior and varsity football team seasons for the 2019-2020 academic year have been cancelled. As well, the 2018-2019 varsity basketball season has been cancelled.
“This was an incredibly hard decision, but necessary to show how serious we are about change,” Leung said.
The coaches of the teams in questions remain in their positions, Leung confirmed.
“At this point there is no reason to assign responsibility on anyone besides the perpetrators,” he said. “Our coaches are not allowed in the locker rooms and our coaches care deeply for our students’ safety.”
Amid the scandal, the school implemented an anonymous tip line and an app where students can report “any misconduct or questionable behaviour they witness.”
“My goal has been to understand the truth – even if it is hard to hear because only then can we move forward in a meaningful way,” Leung said. “I’m deeply committed to complete transparency through this journey and do so with great faith, hope and a firm result to continue to earn the trust of our community in an effort to strengthen our culture of positivity and respect.”
“We have implemented a series of important measures over the past month as we strive to turn the pain of these incidents into an oppourtunity to grow, heal and make lasting impacting change.”
Leung added that all 1,060 students at the school will be completing mandatory workshops centred around building awareness, respect and resilience.
The school’s board also announced the details of an independent examination into the school’s social and cultural practices on Thursday.
“The important work of this committee – its recommendations – will benefit both current and future students of St. Michael’s College School, and reinforce our core values of goodness, discipline and knowledge,” chair of the board of directors Michael Forsayeth said in a news release. “The board will also share this report and its recommendations with other educational institutions.”
Leung said the board will decide how the report, which is due in the summer of 2019, will be presented to the public.
The principal and president of the school both resigned amid the scandal, despite the board saying it remained “united” in its support for the pair. Father Jefferson Thompson and Greg Reeves stepped down on Nov. 22. Reeves, in particular, faced criticism for not notifying officers about a video depicting an alleged sexual assault until two days after it was received. Investigators previously said they were only made aware of the video after receiving questions regarding the matter from media outlets.
Leung was appointed as interim president following Reeves’ resignation.