St. Michael's principal, president resign amid probe into student behaviour
Kayla Goodfield, CTV News Toronto
Published Thursday, November 22, 2018 5:27PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 23, 2018 8:56AM EST
The principal and president of St. Michael’s College School have both resigned amid an investigation into alleged assaults and sexual assaults involving students at the school.
In a statement issued on Thursday evening, the school said the resignations of president Father Jefferson Thompson and principal Greg Reeves were effective immediately. The school cited their “shared desire to move the school forward without distractions and allow it to focus on healing.”
“Reeves and Thompson have always put the welfare, education and formation of our students first – and they do so once again today,” the news release said. “Having fulfilled their moral and ethical obligations to manage the immediate crisis and engage our school community, this courageous decision allows us to move forward with our goals: understanding how these events could have occurred, regaining the trust of our community and bringing cultural change to our school.”
In all, police have said they are investigating six separate incidents of assault or sexual assault at the school.
Six students have been arrested in connection with one of the alleged sexual assaults and have each been charged with sexual assault, gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon.
The identities of the students are protected under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
None of the charges have been proven in court.
The resignations come one day after the board of directors said it remained “united” in its support for Reeves and Thompson.
Reeves, in particular, has faced criticism for not notifying officers about a video depicting an alleged sexual assault until two days after he received a copy on Nov. 12. Investigators said they only became aware of the video on Nov. 14 after receiving questions regarding the matter from media outlets.
Speaking with CP24 over the weekend, Reeves said that the delay in disclosing the video to police was to allow him to conduct his own internal investigation and begin expelling students. Reeves faced a barrage of questions about that decision last week. Insp. Domenic Sinopoli, the head of the sex crimes unit with Toronto police, also said publicly last week that Reeves should have notified police sooner.
When asked if Reeves would be investigated by Toronto police, Chief Mark Saunders said “he is not going to speculate.”
“Whatever evidence is provided during interviews the investigators are responsible for dealing with it in accordance with law and also working in concert with the ministry of the Attorney General’s office, which is something we do with a lot of our investigations so for me to speculate is unfair,” Saunders said.
Mayor John Tory commented on their resignations while speaking to reporters at Toronto Police Headquarters on Thursday night.
“In the end when you are in a position of leadership you have to take a degree of responsibility and sometimes that includes resignation and I think it also allows, when it happens, a new chapter so that you can put some new leadership in place, they can make sure that all the changes that need to be made are made and learn the lessons from what can be see here, which is a real tragedy,” Tory said.
In the school's news release, the school outlined an action plan it is taking to address the allegations.
The plan includes the school conducting an independent third-party investigation, canceling all events involving external groups for the remainder of the year, canceling mid-year assessments for 2018 and implementing an anonymous voicemail for students to report any inappropriate behavior.