Warning: this story contains graphic content
After months of recess due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trial of a teen accused of sexually assaulting another boy at a prestigious Toronto private school resumed Tuesday to hear the victim describe the violent assaults he endured.
In a more than two hour initial statement to police, which was videotaped and played in court and via Zoom videoconference Tuesday, the teen described the two separate incidents as being part of what he called an “initiation” after football practice at Toronto’s all-boys St. Michael’s College School.
In the first incident in mid-October 2018, he described being approached and surrounded by several people who restrained him and hit his bare rear end multiple times with the handle of a broom. In the second, which occurred towards the end of October, the teen said the broom handle was forcefully inserted into his anus.
Neither the victim nor the accused teen can be identified under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
“I felt an arm wrapped around me … I was soon picked up by my arms and legs,” the victim said in his videotaped statement, describing how he was pushed to the ground during the first incident as a group of other boys tried to pull down his pants and underwear.
The teen described feeling “helpless” while he was on the ground on his stomach. “I … knew what was happening. I didn’t really know what was going to happen, but it was kind of ‘my turn’” to be hazed, the victim said, speaking to Toronto police Det.-Const. Daniel Sunghing in the video. The boy said he heard someone saying “get the broom,” before feeling multiple strikes across his rear.
“It really hurt and it was really violent,” he said.
In a second incident, the teen described being approached by the perpetrators while at his locker, and then trying to run from the locker room before being tripped and grabbed as he fell to the ground. The victim said his pants were pulled down before he was struck with the handle of the broom multiple times. He said he was then sexually assaulted by the perpetrators with the broom handle.
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The assault was recorded and later circulated around the school, he said.
Earlier in court Tuesday morning, Sunghing was cross-examined by defence counsel Geary Tomlinson, completing an examination that began in March, before being delayed by the pandemic.
Tomlinson focused much of his cross-examination on timestamps from a Presto card linked to the accused teen. That information, Tomlinson said, suggests the accused could not have been present at the sexual assault.
The accused, a former student of St. Michael’s, previously pleaded not guilty to six charges, including two each of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon.
The accused teen’s case is the only one that remains unresolved among several that came out of the incidents, which sparked widespread outcry and an internal investigation. Seven students initially faced charges following a Toronto police investigation into the existence of a video showing a student being sexually assaulted with a broom handle.
Charges were withdrawn against two students last year. Four others entered guilty pleas and were sentenced to two years’ probation.
Late last year at sentencing for three of the teens, Ontario Court Justice Brian Weagant described a culture of normalized bullying and sexual bullying at the school. One of the victims and his family filed a $1.65 million lawsuit against St. Michael’s last November, alleging the school failed to keep him safe.
The trial resumes Thursday.
Jenna Moon is a breaking news reporter for the Star and is based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @_jennamoon
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