TORONTO — Three former students of an all-boys Catholic school in Toronto were sentenced on Thursday to two years of probation for assaulting and sexually assaulting two fellow students on campus.
Family members hugged the three boys and some of them cried after the judge’s sentencing decision came down in a Toronto courtroom.
The teens pleaded guilty in October to sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon.
One of them, who recorded one of the sex assaults on his cellphone, also pleaded guilty to making child pornography.
An agreed statement of facts says there were two separate incidents at St. Michael’s College School last fall where boys on one of the school’s football teams pinned down two different victims and sexually assaulted them with a broom handle.
None of the accused or the victims can be identified due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The scandal erupted in November 2018 when police launched an investigation into allegations of sexual assault and assault on campus.
Investigators said they uncovered eight incidents and proceeded with charges against seven boys for three of those incidents.
The charges against two other students have been dropped, while another one has pleaded guilty and also received a two-year probationary sentence with no jail time.
The seventh teen is scheduled to go to trial next year.
The allegations sparked a national conversation about bullying and had a profound effect on the school’s community.
The fallout hit the school’s administration, with the principal and the board president resigning amid criticism of its handling of the case.
An independent committee set up to examine the culture at St. Michael’s found that bullying remained a “systemic” problem despite extensive measures taken by the school in the wake of the scandal. It also found hazing was not a problem.
The committee issued a 123-page report in August that offered 36 recommendations, including developing a comprehensive strategy to address bullying and robust staff training to deal with the issue. The school promised to adopt all recommendations.
In a statement Thursday, St. Michael’s said it continues to pray for “all of the individuals involved and their families.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 19, 2019.
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press