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Family of man killed in alleged Toronto swarming attack slams justice system as teen girls seek bail

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The family of a homeless man who died after an alleged "swarming” attack by a group of teen girls in Toronto is speaking out, slamming what they say are "flaws" in the youth criminal justice system.

In a statement released Thursday, the family of 59-year-old Ken Lee said the law protects the young suspects, but “not the victims or the public.”

Lee died of his injuries hospital after an attack, near York Street and University Avenue, on Dec. 18.

One of the girls allegedly involved in the attack has since been granted bail, and the seven others have hearings this week and next to try and obtain bail as well.

The teen suspects, all charged with second-degree murder, cannot be named under the terms of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

In their statement Thursday, Lee’s family said the rules should be different in a cases like this.

“For serious crimes, these perpetrators should not have any privacy rights or bail,” they wrote in the statement. “The public should be aware of who these individuals are to protect themselves. The perpetrators must be named in order to bring forth more victims, witness(es) and evidence.”

“How is the Act protecting the public if we don't know who these perpetrators are and why they are released on bail?” they wrote. “As a parent, my question to the lawmakers who wrote the Youth Criminal Justice Act is how are you protecting my child if the perpetrator cannot be named and she could be in my child's school or class?”

An image of the scene at York Street and University Avenue following the stabbing on Dec. 18. (CTV News Toronto)

Police previously told reporters Lee was with a companion when he was attacked. Police said they believe the suspects were trying to steal a bottle of liquor from Lee or his companion.

Lee was assaulted and stabbed, police said. Bystanders flagged down paramedics, who rushed him to hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Police subsequently arrested eight teen girls nearby in connection with the alleged fatal assault. They are from the Greater Toronto Area, and range in age from 13 to 16 years old.

Authorities believe the teens met up after connecting on social media.

Lee’s family said it is still “too painful” to conduct any interviews. However, they said they want people to know that Lee was a proud man who was recently in the shelter system “because he had fallen” but he had a kind soul and was trying to get back on his feet.

“Just note that Ken was a kind soul with a heart of gold,” the family wrote in the statement. “He was not in the system due to alcohol or drug abuse. He was a man with pride who had fallen and wanted to learn to stand up on his own knowing that he always had his family behind him. Maybe in due time we will share more with you.”

Public interest on the topic of bail reform has been strong recently in light of a number of high-profile crimes involving suspects who were out on bail.

Experts have said the majority of those released on bail do not commit crimes while awaiting their court dates.

However, a number of police chiefs and Canada’s premiers have called for bail reform, especially in light of the recent murder of on OPP officer by a suspect who was out on bail.

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