Monday, November 14, 2005


16 charged in sex assaults at city school
Nov. 14, 2005. 09:00 PM

In what is a shocking and disturbing case, more than a dozen students have been arrested for allegedly torturing and sexually assaulting a girl repeatedly for more than a year at a North York Roman Catholic high school.

Police told earlier this afternoon that 16 young offenders have been arrested in the case, which has just come to light.

Police say they arrested a youth on Nov. 9 and made another arrest the following day.

Another 14 youths were arrested today.

The 16-year-old victim came forward about the assaults last week to school officials.

The incidents were alleged to have occurred at James Cardinal McGuigan Catholic High School on Finch Ave. in North York.

The allegations have already brought calls from school officials that some school boards should be assigning security guards in problem schools.

At a briefing this afternoon, police said the victim told them that throughout the 2004 and 2005 school years, she had been approached by boys at the school demanding sexual favours.

It is alleged that on Monday, Oct. 17, 2005, the victim was approached by a male student and forced into a school stairwell.

There, she was sexually assaulted and then forced to go to the second floor of the school with the student and into a washroom where he continued to sexually assault her.

Last Wednesday, a 17-year-old boy was arrested and charged with assault, sexual assault, forcible confinement and failing to comply with the terms of probation.

It is further alleged that in September, 2005, the victim went to a fast food restaurant and used the washroom in the basement. A boy allegedly followed the victim into the washroom and locked the door, where he demanded sexual favours from the victim.

A restaurant employee arrived and the victim was able to leave, police said.

Last Thursday, a 15-year-old boy was arrested and charged with sexual assault, forcible confinement and criminal harassment.

Today, police descended on the school while students were in class and school staff rounded up the 14 suspects. The teens, two of them girls, were then handcuffed and taken to the local police detachment.

Twelve male students were charged with criminal harassment and the two female students have been charged with threatening bodily harm.

Parents of those arrested descended in protest on the police station where their children were being held, while fellow students challenged the allegations as false.

Nevertheless, police officials were adamant the charges against the 16 youths were well-founded.

"We are not going to lay charges like this . . . with minimal information with minimal investigation," said Insp. Tom McIlhone, who added the school's video surveillance tapes were being scrutinized.

"We have conducted an investigation. There are a number of issues that we looked at, including her evidence and other evidence. We believe that this in fact took place."

Parents of the accused were outraged.

"The school board (has a) zero tolerance (policy). How come we didn't know this was going on for 18 months?" said the mother of one the 16-year olds charged.

"None of the principals, teachers called us to say your son is harassing someone. How come I never got that call?" said the 31-year old.

"For them to come now and just slap a charge on him is unbelievable."

School officials said there was no indication anything was wrong at the school prior to the girl coming forward.

"This was the first time that the student had the courage to come forward and report," said Mary Jo Deighan of the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

"In the last 18 months this girl did not come forward . . . because of fear (of) retaliation (from other students)."

Similar incidents of assault and intimidation are not uncommon in schools, police said.

"This is not an isolated incident," said Det. Jon Ling said.

"Similar incidents have happened at other schools in our division and throughout the city. However, I wouldn't say that this is a rampant problem."

Still, Ontario's education minister called the alleged conduct unacceptable.

"It is not inevitable that our schools have incidents like this. We can make our schools even safer," said Gerard Kennedy.

"There's a tremendous amount of effort being focused on that end and we will be making it even more effective because we can't rest as long as incidents like that are taking place in any of our schools."

While police remain concerned about the safety of the girl, who did not attend class Monday, they said she wants to return to school.

"The victim is upset, obviously, but she is determined that she'd like to go back to school - she'd like to go back to this school," said McIlhone.

"She feels it's her right and by not attending . . . she's victimized again."

The 14 students facing the latest charges were to remain in police custody overnight and were to appear in court Tuesday.

The names of the accused students as well as a victim cannot be released under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

with files from Canadian Press

This report hit me personally.
I was listening to the report when one of the mothers of the charged boys went on a rant about the fact that her son was put in a detention centre overnight.
Now, I know that they are innocent until proven guilty, but it made me think about my own experience.

This mothers reaction infuriated me.

When I was 12 years old, I was supposed to sleep over at my girlfriend Lisa's house.
She lived in the apartment behind ours on Dufferin Street. I was supposed to go over there before dark on an April evening, but I dawdled and left our apartment to head over to hers after dark.
I took a short cut behind the apartments on Spencer Avenue, and as I walked through the parking lot, I was accosted by a couple of boys I went to school with. Next thing I knew, they had pushed me to the ground and there were more boys that came out of nowhere.
I struggled.
One put his hand over my mouth...I was paralyzed with fear.
When one let his hand slip, I screamed...I howled an unearthly howl and someone...a saviour...came out on their balcony and shouted "WHAT ARE YOU DOING???!!!".
The boys dispersed.
And so did I.
I ran home.
I never told my mother, because I wasn't supposed to be out after dark.
I was afraid. I didn't understand what was happening. I thought it was my fault for not listening to my mother, and not going out after dark.
It never occurred to me to go to the Principal of my school.
But, had that person not come out on their balcony... hadn't scared those boys that I went to school with...
Do I think that I was the only girl who had this happen to her and didn't tell?
I don't.
Whoever this 16 year old girl is...I applaud her courage.
To those boys...fucking suck it up you little pricks.

To the leader of the boys who attacked me that night (Peter E*v*l*n)...I hope you have daughters.