Witness walks back testimony about accused in St. Mike's sex assault case

·2 min read

TORONTO — A witness testifying at the trial of a teen accused of sexually assaulting a student at an all-boys Catholic school in Toronto has walked back his previous testimony about the incidents.

The teen witness says he now cannot remember who was involved in one of two sexual assaults that took place on the campus of St. Michael's College School in 2018.

On the last day of his testimony in early February, the witness testified that the accused ripped down the pants of the victim before another teen shoved a broom handle into his anus.

The accused teen has pleaded not guilty to two counts each of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon.

The charges relate to two incidents that took place on Oct. 18 and Nov 7, 2018 in the locker room of one of the school's football teams.

Court has heard from several students who allege the accused teen was involved in both incidents.

No young person can be named due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

A lawyer for the accused teen pointed out discrepancies between the witness's testimony last month and what he told police more than two years ago.

“You say 'There were so many people around so you can’t really see if the guys are just pushing his friends or if he's grabbing one of the guy's arms or something like that,' correct?" Geary Tomlinson asked the witness.

"Correct," he said.

"You couldn't clearly see what was taking place, correct?" Tomlinson asked.

"Correct."

The teen also changed his previous testimony story on another alleged sexual assault with a broom that involved a third victim, which court has never heard about.

The witness could not identify the victim, but said he was not a part of the football team.

He initially testified the accused had sexually assaulted this third victim with a broom handle.

"You didn't see (the accused) put the broom in the guy's butt, correct?" Tomlinson asked.

"Correct," the witness said.

The Nov. 7 incident in the football team's locker room was captured on video, shared on social media and eventually played in court.

Three teens have pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon for their roles in the incidents and have been sentenced to two years of probation.

One of them also pleaded guilty to making child pornography for recording one of the sex assaults in a video that was widely distributed.

Another student received a two-year probationary sentence with no jail time after pleading guilty. The charges against another student, aside from the one who testified, were withdrawn.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2021.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press