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

·3 min read

TORONTO — A witness testifying at the trial of a teen accused of sexually assaulting two students at an all-boys Catholic school in Toronto has walked back his previous testimony on what happened.

The teen witness told court Thursday 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 previous testimony in early February, the witness testified that the accused ripped down the pants of one victim before another teen shoved a broom handle into his anus.

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," the witness said.

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

"Correct."

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, 2018 and Nov. 7, 2018 in the locker room of one of the school's football teams.

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

Court has heard from several students who identified the accused teen as being part of both incidents.

The teen witness also changed his previous testimony 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.

Another teen testified Thursday that the team's head coach, Daniel Lumsden, addressed the team in study hall after he was made aware of a photograph of one of the victims that showed his buttocks.

"There’s a photo that has been going around amongst the players and he was informed about it and he was just telling the guys to delete it, like now," the other teen testified.

He said the coach also made the team run after practice as a form of punishment.

Lumsden had previously told court he had never seen or heard of hazing or roughhousing incidents at the school until he saw the video of the locker room sex assault.

Lumsden also denied allegations that he instructed students during study hall to delete that image or video from their phones.

"That's a lie," he said when asked about it by the defence in court in December. "It never occurred, that never happened in study hall."

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 were withdrawn.

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

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press