Sex assault charges against teen in St. Michael's scandal withdrawn
Published Wednesday, August 7, 2019 9:37AM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, August 7, 2019 6:45PM EDT
TORONTO -- Charges against one of seven students accused in alleged incidents of sexual assault and assault at a prestigious private school in Toronto were withdrawn Wednesday after a prosecutor said a conviction was unlikely.
The teen boy, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, faced two sex assault charges and one assault charge related to alleged incidents at St. Michael's College School last fall.
During a brief hearing in youth court on Wednesday, Crown lawyer Erin McNamara said the prosecution had fully assessed the teen's case and decided to withdraw the charges.
"Though at the time there were reasonable and probable grounds for his arrest on these charges, it is the Crown's current view that there is no reasonable prospect of conviction of this young person," she said.
Outside court, the teen's lawyer, Brian Heller, said he had expected the resolution for a while.
"It has been a long time coming," he said.
Heller declined to comment on how his client was doing or why the charges were withdrawn.
Court did not hear further details on the withdrawal and a spokeswoman for the school declined to comment, citing publication bans imposed by the court.
Six other teens who were students at the all-boys Catholic school still face charges of assault, sexual assault with a weapon and gang sexual assault related to two alleged sexual assault incidents and one alleged assault involving one of the school's football teams.
Police began their investigation in November and uncovered eight alleged incidents involving students at the school -- investigators with the sex crimes unit laid charges in three of those and said two victims were involved.
Authorities revealed little about the allegations, but two police sources have said one of the alleged incidents involved a group of students on a football team pinning down another student and allegedly sexually assaulting him with a broom handle.
Police and the school said videos of the alleged incidents were being shared by students and came to the attention of senior staff of the school. Investigators said the school did not contact them about the allegations, but police found out through media seeking further information.
The alleged sexual assaults led to the expulsion of those seven students from school, the suspension of one of the football teams, and a sweeping "respect and culture" review that is set to report its findings this summer.
The scandal also led to the resignation of the school's top two officials.