3 ex-students plead guilty to sex assault offences at St. Michael’s College School

Three former students of Toronto’s St. Michael’s College School have pleaded guilty to sexual assault offences in hazing incidents that occurred at the private school.

The teens have pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon, stemming from two hazing incidents in 2018.

One of the teens has also pleaded guilty to one charge of distributing pornographic material. The teens cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

A tentative sentencing date is set for Nov. 14.

Police launched an investigation last fall after a video that captured a sexual assault on the school’s campus was shared on social media.

Overall, seven students were charged with assault and sexual assault offences that related to three incidents involving members of one of the school’s football teams.

Four of the students charged were expelled and three withdrew from the school in the wake of the allegations.

Charges against one of those seven were withdrawn back in August after a prosecutor said a conviction was unlikely.

The cases against two other students also concluded that month, but Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General would not say what the outcomes of the cases against the teens were, citing restrictions under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

One other teen’s charges are still making their way through the court system. A hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 17.

St. Michael’s is run by the Basilian Fathers with its roots dating back to the Congregation of St. Basil in France. The school’s principal and its board president resigned amid criticism of its handling of the case.

The investigation touched off a national discussion about bullying and hazing in Canadian schools. Many alumni came forward with their own stories of abuse at the Catholic school, while others spoke about their positive memories of the institution.

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 that 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 the recommendations.

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