WARNING: This story contains disturbing content.
Toronto Police say they have increased the presence of officers at St. Michael’s College School after they were made aware of a threat in the wake of an alleged sexual assault investigation.
Police told Global News “they are taking necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the school.” The school is not on lockdown.
In a letter sent to parents on Thursday, the school said in the wake of the “greater attention” on St. Michael’s, it took the “additional step of securing the presence of Toronto police officers.” The school also said it added security on campus for the foreseeable future.
Earlier on Thursday, police said the prestigious private school did not notify them about the alleged sexual assault of a student on campus as claimed by the school’s principal.
Police say they launched an investigation into the alleged incident at St. Michael’s on Wednesday after officers were contacted by the media.
Global News has seen two online videos showing a group of students appearing to assault another teen. In one of the videos, the alleged victim can be seen struggling on the ground with his pants down as the boys around him attempt to sodomize him with a broomstick.
In an email sent to parents on Wednesday, principal Greg Reeves said the school informed police on Monday of “two very serious incidents” that recently occurred on campus.
WATCH: As Mike Drolet reports, there are troubling questions about how the school handled the case. And a warning, the details of this story are disturbing.
Const. Caroline de Kloet, however, says the school only contacted police to seek advice on how to deal with one incident that did not involve allegations of sexual assault.
De Kloet says police offered advice to the school and no further action was “taken or received.”
Originally posted on social media, the videos have since been removed. Police issued a statement Wednesday evening saying the video content “meets the definition of child pornography.”
LISTEN: Two mothers discuss an alleged group assault that happened inside St. Michael’s College
“Anyone who has this video is in possession of child pornography. The video must be deleted immediately and cannot be shared with anyone,” the statement said.
Officers from 13 Division and the Child & Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC) are conducting the investigation into the alleged assault.
A student, who wished to remain anonymous, told Global News Thursday morning that St. Michael’s was a “good school” but that he no longer felt safe there.
“I don’t feel safe at this school. If there’s help, I really need help because this might happen to me or some other of my friends, and I just don’t feel comfortable with this happening,” he said, adding his parents were scared, as well.
VIDEO: Disturbing video leads to assault investigation at Toronto private school
The student said the school hasn’t really done “anything” and that a lot of the students shared the same fear.
A family lawyer who went to St. Michael’s as a teen, John Schuman, told Global News on Thursday he’s had cases in recent years where he was contacted by parents of students from the school who were being bullied. Schuman said he received calls in 2017, as well as 2018.
When asked if he views bullying as an issue at the school, Schuman said he’s seen enough cases of it at St. Michael’s to see there is an “over-representation” there compared to other schools.
Schuman said he wasn’t surprised that this alleged assault took place but rather he was surprised that word of the situation “got out.”
“I heard about the same sort of stuff from other students in relation to sports teams but involving food items, and sausages, and other sorts of same type of thing.”
The lawyer said the school culture at St. Michael’s might be a “bit strong.”
“It’s probably that it’s a tradition or ritual or way things have been done that in private schools it’s hard to change, especially with prestigious schools,” he said.
The letter sent to parents also said that Grade 9 students who participated in Take Our Kids to Work Day on Wednesday, were spoken to at a formal assembly Thursday morning. Counsellors and support are also available to any student who needs to talk. Two parent/guardian-only meetings are scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
LISTEN: Glen Canning, father of Rehtaeh Parsons, explains what the abused boys may be going through
“Our administration remains deeply committed to the ongoing education of our students about behavioural expectations and adherence to the Student Code of Conduct that model our mission and vision,” the letter said.
The school is known for its athletic program. Alumni include hockey greats Frank Mahovlich, Dave Keon and Tim Horton. Track star and Olympic hopeful Justyn Knight also attended the school.
—With files from The Canadian Press and Global News Mike Drolet
The full letter to parents and guardians can be read here:
The safety and security of our students is of the utmost importance to us and remains our top priority.
Today there has been greater attention on the school. As a result, St. Michael’s College School took the additional step of securing the presence of Toronto Police officers at the school today. Further, St. Michael’s College School has secured the presence of security on campus for the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, the school administration addressed Grade 9 students who were off campus yesterday as part of Take Our Kids to Work Day, in a formal assembly this morning.
Support continues to be available for our students through the Student Affairs Department.
Our administration remains deeply committed to the ongoing education of our students about behavioural expectations and adherence to the Student Code of Conduct that model our mission and vision.
Two parent/guardian-only meetings have been scheduled for tomorrow at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the school gymnasium to provide further updates.
The school will be on a Schedule ‘C’ tomorrow. Supervision will be provided for students who need to stay to the end of a regular school day (Schedule ‘A’).
We will provide the SMCS parent community with regular updates as we cooperate with police on their ongoing investigation.
Thank you for your continued support.
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