Toronto private school didn't report incident of alleged sexual assault, police say

A Catholic boys' private school where a student was allegedly sexually assaulted did not report the incident to the Toronto police, a spokeswoman for the force said Thursday, adding that a criminal investigation was launched only after officers were contacted by the media.

Warning: this story contains graphic details about an alleged sexual assault

St. Michael's College School officials say they've asked police to secure the facility on Thursday and into the foreseeable future as it deals with allegations that a student was sexually assaulted there. (Farrah Merali/CBC)

A Catholic boys' private school where a student was allegedly sexually assaulted did not report the incident to the Toronto police, a spokeswoman for the force said Thursday, adding that a criminal investigation was launched only after officers were contacted by the media.

On Thursday, police ramped up patrols around the school which teaches grades 7 through 12 following unspecified threats. 

In an email to parents, the school's principal said they had been made aware of "two very serious incidents" that were in clear violation of the student code of conduct.

"The administration was informed about these incidents on Monday of this week and immediately began an internal investigation that included informing police and meeting individually with the students involved and their parents," Greg Reeves wrote in the note sent Wednesday afternoon.

"Our concern is first and foremost with the safety and well-being of our students and we are shocked and heartbroken that such incidents have taken place at our school," he said.

Police say school called about separate incident

Const. Caroline de Kloet said the school had contacted police on Monday to seek advice on how to deal with an incident that was not the alleged sex assault.

"Advice was provided to the school and no further action was taken or received," de Kloet said.

She said the force began investigating on Wednesday after receiving media inquiries about an alleged sex assault.

The school said in a statement Wednesday that "swift and decisive disciplinary action" had taken place, including expulsions, but it didn't say how many.

Incidents captured on video

Two police sources told The Canadian Press the incident the school discussed with officers on Monday involved members of the basketball team bullying a student and soaking him with water.

Those sources said there was another incident involving the football team where a group of boys held down another student and allegedly sexually assaulted him with a broom handle. Both incidents were captured on video and circulated among the students at the school.

In a rare move, police released a statement Wednesday night saying investigators had determined the video of the alleged sexual assault met the definition of child pornography.

"Anyone who has this video is in possession of child pornography," police said. "The video must be deleted immediately and cannot be shared with anyone."

Det. Sgt. Paul Krawczyk, who runs the child exploitation section within the sex crimes division at Toronto police, said they decided to act proactively and warn both parents and students about the severity of possessing and sharing the video.

"It shows the alleged sexual assault of a child," he said in an interview.

Police say they have the evidence they need

Krawczyk said getting the video removed from the internet will be almost impossible, and in some cases police are worried about losing evidence.

"But we have the evidence we want," he said. "I'd rather lose potential evidence and save a victim from having this sent around more. It's trying to stop that little hole of water from becoming a burst dam."

Krawczyk said he wants both parents and students in general to be aware of the perils of sharing sexually explicit videos.    

"There are charges at play, like non consensual distribution of intimate images," he said

Meanwhile, the school sent a letter to parents saying it has requested Toronto police officers secure the facility for the "foreseeable future."

"The safety and security of our students is of the utmost importance to us and remains our top priority," the letter states.

With files from CBC News