Nova Scotia

St. FX football player charged with sex assault was residence leader

Last week, RCMP laid three charges of sexual assault against Jonah Williams, 19, of Halifax. A second student has also been charged.

University spokesperson says one of two players charged was house president

The alumni hall at St. Francis Xavier University. (Elizabeth McMillan/CBC)

One of two St. Francis Xavier University football players charged with sexual assault was the student leader of an on-campus residence, says a spokesperson with the Antigonish, N.S., university.

Last week, RCMP laid three charges of sexual assault against Jonah Williams, 19, of Halifax, a former player at Citadel High School.

In addition to playing defensive back for the X-Men, Williams was the house president of a St. FX student residence. House presidents receive an honorarium and have various responsibilities, including organizing events.

RCMP have also charged Tyler Ball, 18, of Truro, with sexual assault. Ball played at Cobequid Education Centre and was a rookie with the X-Men football team this season.

"In both cases, interim measures include denial of all student privileges, this includes no participation in any athletics programs," St. FX spokesperson Cindy MacKenzie said in an email.

"One of the accused has been denied access to campus while the other has been granted restricted access to campus, only permitted to attend classes. The arrangements are being made to allow continuation of course work remotely."

'Problematic behaviour'

Police said an 18-year-old woman who was a student at the university contacted them on Nov. 22, saying she had been sexually assaulted on campus the previous weekend. 

RCMP said a second woman, age 19 and also a student, came forward and alleged one of the men under investigation had also sexually assaulted her on two separate occasions on campus — once in September and once in November.

St. FX unveiled a new victim-centered sexual violence strategy in 2016.

"That policy clearly outlines what's considered an optimal response process from St. FX, with lots of student-centered options for reporting," said Heather Blackburn, manager of the sexual assault nurse examiner program at the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre.

"When you have concentrated populations of older adolescents and young adults living alone for the first time, I think it's to be expected that it could concentrate some problematic behaviour."

Both suspects have been released on conditions. Williams is facing a court appearance on Jan. 10 in Antigonish provincial court. Ball will appear on Jan. 24.

MacKenzie said any further sanctions on the students will be determined through the discipline process detailed in the university's community code.