WINNIPEG - Allegations of sexual abuse and humiliation were uncovered by city police during an investigation into student-on-student assaults at a Winnipeg private school, leading to charges against four teens.
The charges are another chapter in a saga which has stunned prestigious St.
John’s-Ravenscourt School’s community of students, parents and staff.
Const. Jacqueline Chaput, a Winnipeg police spokesman, said four males - two 16-year-olds, a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old - were arrested off campus and charged Wednesday with sexual assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and uttering threats. All four were held in custody and appeared in court Thursday.
“Just the fact that it was a sexual assault against a child, that is serious to us,” Chaput said. “The reason, motive or otherwise is yet to be determined.” The charges relate to a single complainant but investigators still have to interview several potential victims, meaning additional charges are pending, Chaput said.
A source said the suspects are accused of holding down the complainant and threatening to sodomize him with a wooden stick.
Everyone involved - the suspects and at least four male complainants in Grades 8 to 11 - was a boarding student when the alleged abuse began last fall.
SJR school head Stephen Johnson said the charges reveal a different level of seriousness than expected.
Johnson said three suspects are in Grade 12 and one in Grade 11 at SJR’s senior school.
Two are from Africa while the others hail from Asia and Alberta, said a source. It’s believed justice officials will move to seize passports to prevent the international students from fleeing.
Johnson said one international student’s family has moved to Manitoba since he enrolled in the school.
Two faced expulsion but decided to voluntarily withdraw, while two others were suspended for five days and supposed to return to class Thursday.
Johnson said the latter two are still enrolled but won’t be allowed back in class until further notice at the request of Child and Family Services, which got involved Wednesday.
The allegations came to light when someone told a teacher last week. Police were contacted Sunday.
When the investigation began police were aware some type of assaults occurred and learned during interviews they were of a sexual nature, Chaput said.
The ongoing investigation involves the child abuse and sex crimes units.