The president and principal of St. Michael’s College School, a prestigious all-boys Catholic school in Toronto, resigned Thursday, following the arrests of six students in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a boy at the school, which was captured on video.
The school announced that President Jefferson Thompson and Principal Greg Reeves had resigned, “citing their shared desire to move the school forward without distractions and allow it to focus on healing and change after the horrific events of student misbehavior that came to light last week.”
Toronto police on Monday arrested six boys from the school on a total of 18 charges of assault, gang sexual assault, and sexual assault with a weapon, in relation to a video in which a group of boys appeared to sexually assault a teen boy with a broomstick in a locker room.
The police are also investigating two allegations of physical assault and at least one other allegation of sexual assault involving the students at the private school, after videos of some of the incidents were circulated on social media last week.
St. Michael’s College School expelled eight students and suspended one in connection with two incidents related to the videos.
In the 22-second video that led to the boys’ arrests, the victim is shown being held down by several boys, while two students appear to assault him with a broomstick, the Star reported. In the video, someone is heard yelling “Get it in there” and “put it in,” according to the Star.
In a separate 49-second video, another teen boy in his underwear appears to be thrown into a sink with running water while several students slap his bare skin, CityNews and the Star reported.
After the two videos surfaced, the school was criticized for not informing the police of the video that showed the alleged sexual assault. The police only learned about the alleged sexual assault after receiving inquiries from the media.
On Tuesday, the police informed the school that they had two new videos of other incidents at the school “described as threatening event and assault with a belt,” the school said.
Police also said they were in possession of several other videos that were being circulated and stated that “there may be more videos and more incidents.” Officials warned that those in possession of the videos, or responsible for sharing them, would face serious consequences.
The allegations sparked widespread criticism and scrutiny of the prestigious school, which describes itself as “Ontario’s only independent Catholic high school for young men in Grades 7–12,” offering them “an enriched, Catholic, Liberal Arts education.”
On Wednesday, Michael Forsayeth, the chair of the board of directors, had issued a statement saying Reeves and Thompson had the “full support” of the board and the school’s parents.
However, on Thursday, Forsayeth responded to their resignations, saying, “Greg Reeves and Fr. Thompson have always put the welfare, education and formation
of our students first — and they do so once again today.”
Forsayeth called their decision to resign “courageous,” adding that they had fulfilled their “moral and ethical obligations to manage the immediate crisis and engage our school community.”
The school has canceled its mid-year assessments as well as all events involving external groups, teams, and public performances for the rest of the year.
St. Michael’s College said it will conduct workshops and discussions about the “recent issues” and has implemented an anonymous voicemail for students to report inappropriate behavior and incidents at the school.
The school also launched a “Respect and Culture Review” by an independent third-party to “examine the traditions, rituals, and social practices of students at every grade level and in all areas of school life.”