MANDEL: Should former St. Mike’s student do youth jail time for gang sex assault?

Article content

For pinning down his friend while the poor kid was sodomized with a broom handle in the St. Michael’s College School locker room, the prosecutor wants the teen sentenced to three months in custody.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

But is that fair when his co-accused, including the boy who actually inserted the broom and the one who videotaped the horrific assault on his cellphone, were handed just two years of probation?

It’s a question Ontario Court Judge Manjusha Pawagi will consider before she delivers her sentence next month — closing the final criminal chapter on the shocking scandal at the elite Catholic all-boys school.

In the fall of 2017, the culture of bullying and hazing was rife at the private school, with boys chanting, “Get the broom,” to herald the ugly ritual in the football locker room. One student was assaulted in October and another in November. When video of the second sexual assault was widely shared on social media, Toronto Police moved in and boys in uniforms were under arrest.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Three students pleaded guilty to their roles in the attacks, while one also pleaded guilty to videotaping the November assault and sharing it on social media. Prosecutors asked for a year in custody, but the judge gave them just two years probation.

Perpetrating two humiliating sexual assaults hadn’t warranted even the loss of one day of freedom.

Only one pleaded not guilty and went to trial.

  1. St. Michael's College School in Toronto on Nov. 19, 2018. (Ernest Doroszuk,Toronto Sun)

    Chilling St. Mike’s sex assault video seen in court for first time

  2. St. Michael's College School in Toronto on Nov. 19, 2018.

    MANDEL: Did St. Mike’s football coach know hazing was going on in locker room?

  3. St. Michael's College School in Toronto.

    MANDEL: Witnesses kept quiet about sex assault at St. Michael’s College School, court hears

The Crown had originally portrayed him as the ringleader, but that accusation soon fell away. His charges related to the October assault were withdrawn after the judge agreed there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

As for the videotaped attack in November, the teen, 15 at the time, admitted holding down the victim’s arm but said he only did it because he feared the others would assault him if he didn’t.

Pawagi rejected his excuse and convicted him in June of gang sexual assault and assault with a weapon.

It was shameful to be sure. But does he deserve detention when his co-accused do not?

“This was a violent and humiliating sexual assault on a young person,” said Crown Sarah De Filippis in calling for the three-month youth jail sentence.

“It was committed by a group of people in front of an even larger group of people. It involved many students ganging up on one student, it involved the use of a weapon. It involved the victim being restrained by all of his limbs, which rendered him unable to fight back.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

She accused him of violating his bail by attending high school in the United States and said that unlike the others who pleaded guilty, he showed “no meaningful insight or remorse.”

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

In her gentle, soft-spoken way, Pawagi asked why he would be the only one to serve a custodial sentence when his co-accused — those who actually wielded the broom and videotaped the assault — were arguably more to blame.

“Obviously the one who held the broom was much more culpable,” De Filippis conceded. “But he held somebody down when he saw that was happening to them. He didn’t attempt to stop it.”

Defence lawyer Geary Tomlinson urged Pawagi to sentence him to the same sentence of two years probation, less time for his lengthy COVID-delayed trial.

“He should not be treated more harshly than his co-accused,” he argued. “It cannot be said he did anything worse than the others.”

Tomlinson insisted the honour-roll student is genuinely remorseful and quoted what the teen said in his pre-sentence report: “I feel bad. I apologized afterwards. I told him I was sorry and I can’t say sorry enough.

“I think about it all the time. I think about it every day. It changed lives forever.”

The judge will deliver her sentence Nov. 2.

mmandel@postmedia.com

    Advertisement

    Story continues below

    Comments

    Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

    Share:

    Share on facebook
    Facebook
    Share on twitter
    Twitter
    Share on pinterest
    Pinterest
    Share on linkedin
    LinkedIn
    On Key

    Related Posts

    On AIR

    Russtrat world

    USA on the eve of white revenge

    MOSCOW, 30 Nov 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute. During the presidency of Donald Trump, so many rules and even taboos have been broken in the American establishment