Joshua Freeman, CTV News Toronto
Published Sunday, November 18, 2018 4:32 EST
Last Updated on Monday, 19 November 2018 12:20 EST
The director of a private school in Toronto, shocked by evidence of several incidents of student violence, including alleged sexual assault, spoke on Sunday and said the school is working to get to the root of the problem.
"We need to understand what we do not see, what it is and what to do, and absolutely – we have to do better," said Gregory Reeves, director of the St. Stephen's School. Michael's College, in a weekly interview Sunday.
On Sunday, the school said "it is launching a rigorous independent examination of attitudes and behaviors that are inconsistent with our culture and values and their impact on the entire school community."
In a statement, Reeves called the recent "terrible" and "offensive incidents for everything we're trying to teach young people at the St. Michael's College School," and added that the victims are nurtured and supported .
According to Reeves, administrators saw a movie on Monday morning of a seeming attack against a student in a bathroom.
Reeves said he had notified the police about that incident the same day around 03:30. and expulsion meetings were set up on Tuesday to deal with the students involved.
"On the night of Monday night, another video came in my possession. There was no one else here, at that moment we could not recognize who was in the movie," Reeves told CP24.
This was Reeves' film on Monday night, which seemed to show a student who was sexually assaulted with an object.
The video about alleged sexual assault was posted on social media. Since then, the police described the video as "child pornography" and informed that anyone with a copy should destroy it.
Administrators said the Toronto police announced Wednesday. Reeves said he originally thought he was the first to send a copy to the police. However, the police said the incident had been announced for the first time through media surveys.
Asked why the police did not immediately announce the second video, Reeves said his priority was to make sure the victim felt safe at the school.
"When I saw the second video, I was as shocked and horrifying as anyone. At that point I came to understand that he did not tell his parents," Reeves said. "So it was important for me, for the full protection of the victim here, to see again the expulsion meetings for the next morning and expel the children of the school to protect the victim."
The school also said this week that a third alleged incident was sent to the authorities.
"On Thursday I spoke to a parent who said her son was a victim. Immediately at that time, I informed the police and the police were dealing with that victim," Reeves said on Sunday.
Also on Sunday, Reeves said he was sending another video to the Toronto police, although it is not yet clear whether the new video describes a separate incident other than what has already been investigated.
The main time stamps
Compressed why he waited until Wednesday to alert police about his second video, Reeves said the victim's parents are content with the way the school responded to the situation.
"They are very pleased and feel that the way we did here at school helped him in healing, so we are quite pleased with the terms we used to help this victim and keep them safe," said Reeves .
He reiterated that he felt he acted out of concern for the student's safety.
"My only concern was the safety of that young man and, in my opinion, I acted properly and the parents were happy with the deadlines that we kept," Reeves said. "It is very difficult, especially with this video presented. If I'm criticized about this, you know if I had a game card on how to do these things and come back, maybe I did it differently, but in this moment was the decision we made and how it came out. "
Police say there could be more casualties
On Friday, police said in a statement that more incidents are being investigated.
"The investigators worked in collaboration with the school administration and consequently several events were opened involving incidents of alleged aggressive and sexually aggressive behavior," police said in a press release Friday evening.
The police said they believed there could be more casualties and encouraged anyone with information to contact the investigators.
The school has already said eight students have been expelled and a student has been suspended due to incidents.
The school promises a "rigorous" investigation of student culture
Reeves said the purpose of the third survey would be to "eliminate" the behavior that attracted public attention this week.
"Through this review, our purpose is to examine these unacceptable behaviors at St. Michael's now and in the past and to take definitive action to eliminate them," Reeves said in the statement. "We have to make the visible invisible. We take responsibility for keeping our students safe."
Speaking with CP24, he said the commission would make a "deep dive" into the culture and history of the school to find out what was wrong.
"The reason the foreign commission is initiating is that we have a problem and it is a serious problem. We want to find out what it is and do everything we can to understand it and move on."
He added that staff and administrators were unaware of this behavior before this week and said they were "hearts" of news.
"Our policy here and what we are trying to promote in youth is goodness, discipline and knowledge," Reeves said. "These are the values that we accept at school and have done so for a long time. These values are close and dear to our heart, and we do not understand what happened to this clash of these values, and they were not accepted."
He said that the school has already taken a number of measures, such as meeting with students and parents, and bringing crisis advisors to students and staff. Additional steps include hiring a social worker and implementing an application where students can report bad behavior.
"The problem is that we need children to tell us so we can act. If children do not tell us or parents do not tell us, it's difficult to act," Reeves said.
A SMCS Compliance and Review Committee is expected to be set up by the first week of December in order to provide a spring report and a final report by the summer of 2019.
"This would shake everyone's world, so we are pursuing all we can do, and the council gives us the resources we need to solve this problem."