Thursday , June 1 2023

The College of St. Michael's College and school president resigned because of the students' assault scandal


Director and President of the School of St. Michael's College resigned as a result of assault charges and sexual assault among students, according to a statement issued by the private school, all boys, Thursday afternoon.

Principal Greg Reeves and Father Jefferson Thompson, the president of the school, resigned to allow the Roman Catholic school to move "without distraction and allow it to concentrate on healing and change after horrific events," said the board of directors of St. . the statement.

"Greg Reeves and Father Thompson have always put our students' welfare, education and training – and they do it again today," said Michael Forsayeth, chairman of the board of directors.

"This courageous decision allows us to progress with our goals: understanding how these events could occur, regaining our community's confidence and bringing cultural change to our school."

I am not surprised to see that it ends in this way.– Jean-Paul Bedard, graduate of St. Michael

Bill Dunphy, who graduated 50 years ago from St. Michael, told CBC News that the decision is a "symbolic action" and shows that the prestigious school council "really wants to send a signal that they want decisive action."

Other graduates, who accused the school of having a "toxic masculinity" culture and demanded reform, say resignations give the school time to tackle the underlying issues of its classes.

"I'm not at all surprised to see that it will end in this way or at least move in that direction," said graduate Jean-Paul Bedard, a former football team member who said he had experienced sexual violence during Michael's incidents 35 years ago.

"This certainly does not solve the problem, but this allows a potential solution to come through."

Alumni Adam Boni, who graduated in 1987, resumed this and noted that this was an important step in transparency.

"This change allows the school to go fresh with the blood: a new vision and purpose," he said.

The principal criticized for handling incidents

On Wednesday, the school reaffirmed its support for Reeves and Thompson after some graduates demanded the resignation of high-ranking directors, and for teachers who knew about attacks to resign.

Reeves, who was criticized for not being called to the police earlier, defended his actions in an interview with CBC National host Adrienne Arsenault earlier this week.

He said he kept in touch with the authorities because the alleged victim did not tell his family about the incident.

Tuesday evening, Reeves said that if he had presented the same situation, he would "do exactly the same."

Adrienne Arsenault speaks with Greg Reeves, school principal at St. Michael's College, following the announcement that the school is launching an investigation to examine "unacceptable behaviors." 3:16

Reeves said he announced the police on November 12, when the administration received a video about a supposed attack that took place in a bath. That evening, school officials said they had received a second video about alleged sex assault in a locker room.

Toronto police told reporters that Reeves did not report the alleged sexual assault until the officers who were contacted by the media appeared at school on November 15th.

Insp. Dominic Sinopoli, who heads the Toronto police unit, said the school would have reported the incident immediately.

The School of St. Michael's Toronto College is at the heart of a scandal that is unfolding. (Paul Smith / CBC)

In Ontario, the Ministry of Education calls for public school councils to develop protocols with the police, including incidents where school principals have a mandatory obligation to contact the police. Suspicions of sexual assault are among those incidents.

However, many of the standards governing public schools do not apply to private schools, including the obligation to report sexual assault by police, said John Schuman, a graduate of St. Michael and a lawyer in Toronto, specializing in children's rights and education law.

Toronto police chief Mark Saunders would not tell if Reeves would be investigated because he did not alert the police before doing so.

"For me, to speculate is unfair," Saunders told reporters Thursday after a meeting of the Toronto Police Services Council.

Andrew Leung, former professor of science and physics at St. Michael was appointed interim president by the board of directors of the school. He was pastor and rector of the parishes in Edmonton, St. Alphonsus and St. Clare, in the last two years.

Three students from St. Michael's College, on the left, made a brief presentation of the court on Monday in Toronto, and were released on bail. They will return to court on December 19th. (Pam Davies / CBC)

Earlier this week, police filed criminal charges against six students in connection with an investigation into sexual assault.

Police investigate six cases involving school students who teach grades 7-12. Some of the incidents were recorded on video and shared online. The police and the school said two of the six cases involved sexual assault.

St. Michael expelled eight students in connection with allegations. It is not clear if any of the eight are among those who have been accused.

Toronto Prime Minister John Tory, who spoke Thursday after a Toronto Police Security Council meeting, said he hoped resignations would lead to a new chapter in prestigious school, and that the new leadership will address serious issues which allegations brought them to light.

Tory has called what's going on in school "a real tragedy for everyone in question."

St. Michael, known for his athletic programs, has launched a third investigation into the current situation and incidents in the past. School officials hope that a first examination will be done by spring, with a more in-depth investigation to end next summer.

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