Teen sues Toronto police board over 'negligent' St. Mike's investigation

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A former student of an all-boys Catholic school is suing Toronto police over a sexual assault investigation the teen alleges was negligent and resulted in "baseless charges" against a victim.

The teen launched a $1-million suit against the Toronto Police Services Board and several officers for their role in a sexual assault investigation at St. Michael's College School in 2018.

The boy, who cannot be named due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act but goes by John Doe in the court documents, said he was not involved in the sexual assault of a member of the school's football team on Nov. 7, 2018.

Later that month, police laid several charges against the teen, including sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon.

The Crown dropped the charges against the boy in August 2019.

The teen's lawyer said his client had been the victim of sexual assault in a similar incident and he felt revictimized by police.

"He was the victim of a brutal sexual assault," said the teen's lawyer, Justin Linden. "And instead of receiving the support he should have received at the outset, he was mistakenly charged by the police with participating in another sexual assault, was taken into custody, his parents had to hire a criminal lawyer, and he was completely innocent."

The Toronto Police Services Board declined to comment.

Toronto police began an investigation into the private high school in November 2018 after they found out about an alleged sexual assault that was captured on cellphone video that was shared on social media.

The force eventually arrested and charged seven teen boys related to two sexual assaults against two students and an assault, all of which occurred on campus.

The teen who launched the suit was the victim in the first sexual assault.

"The Toronto police defendants were negligent in not interviewing the plaintiff John Doe before his arrest and obtaining his evidence, and charging John Doe based on false evidence," said the statement of claim, which has not been proven in court.

There is currently a trial taking place in youth court against one teen who allegedly participated in both incidents. The accused in that case has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Three teens have previously pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon for their roles in the incidents. Each was 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 yet another student were withdrawn.

The boy who filed the suit has struggled with his mental health, according to his claim.

"As a result of the defendants' negligence, the plaintiff John Doe sustained injuries, losses and damages including depression, anxiety, physical and emotional trauma, loss of reputation, stigma, and a past loss of income and a loss of competitive advantage," the claim said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2021.