If you were held down by a group of your peers, one of them ramming a broom stick into your anus before an audience, how would you come out of it ever feeling normal again?
The polite and precise description for what I have described, of course, would be sodomized with a broomstick, but I thought my description, though coarse, better described the horrific gravity of the offence.
I have tried to wrap my mind around what happened to the teen who underwent this abuse at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto in an effort to assess how I would have felt if it had happened to me.
It was a fruitless exercise.
There is no way anyone but the victim could ever know the pain, the horror, the degradation and the embarrassment of living through something like that.
The only thing I could come up was that I would want the perpetrators to pay big time.
And it’s not going to happen in the case at hand.
Back in 2018 seven teen-agers attending St. Michael’s were charged with inflicting the torture described above on a fellow student.
Three of the teens 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 the sex assault.
Another student received a two-year probationary sentence with no jail time after pleading guilty to lesser offences. The charges against two others were withdrawn.
The seventh teen involved was found guilty at a trial in June of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, and assault. Sentencing at a hearing last week was set for Nov. 2.
The prosecution, calling the incident “violent and humiliating,” suggested at the sentencing hearing that a jail term of three months was in order.
“This was a violent and humiliating sexual assault on a young person by a group of people in front of a larger group of people,” Crown attorney Sarah De Filippis said in court.
The Crown said the teen victim, a friend of the accused, has suffered tremendously and “may later in life suffer from psychological or mental health issues as a result of this incident.”
In response, the defence argued the teen should receive a probationary sentence of two years with no time in jail — like the four who had pleaded guilty.
“It cannot be said he did anything worse,” said Geary Tomlinson, the accused teen’s defence lawyer.
I hate to say this but Tomlinson is right; the sentence for this teen should be the same as that imposed on the others. It would be a travesty of justice to have it otherwise, considering the facts were basically the same for all.
However, I consider the whole affair a travesty of justice when it comes to sentencing in this case.
Two years probation as the penalty in a case as horrific as this one is ridiculous. All should have been jailed and it should have been for much more than three months.
After all, a Sault Ste. Marie woman who spat at two Sudbury Jail correctional officers a year ago – getting one of them in an eye – last week was given a 90-day jail sentence for the offence.
I don’t intend to play down being spit on, especially when some of it lands in the eye, but I believe being sodomized with a broom handle is a far greater offence.
Tomlinson said his client has done community service, graduated on the honour roll and is now enrolled at university.
“There is ample evidence that it would be favourable to society by allowing this young person to continue on his rehabilitative path.”
I am all for rehabilitation but I also believe that there is a need for punishment, this being a classic case.
It cried out for it for all involved but the Crown, as if it hadn’t heard itself tell the judge about the lifelong effect this may have on the victim, didn’t come through.
It took the easy way out, accepting guilty pleas from four of the accused in return for probation, which in essence basically amounts to a non-sentence as their lives, if they follow the rules, will go on as before.
But that won’t, of course, be the case for the victim. It probably never will.
I DON’T KNOW THE REASON behind it but when reading some newspapers online, a picture carried with the story will appear in a secondary box at the bottom right of the page.
It can be a problem for the reader.
It isn’t with The Washington Post and The New York Times, which I subscribe to, but it is with the National Post, to which I also subscribe.
With The Post and The Times the secondary photos are narrow enough that they do not interfere with the text.
That is not the case with the National Post, which allows the secondary photo to block out about three-quarters of an inch of type.
It is much worse with our local Sault Star, which like the Post is a member of Postmedia, in that the secondary picture can cover as much as two-and-a-half inches of the type that should run cleanly beside it.
Considering The Washington Post and the New York Times are being published without this problem, it is obvious that Postmedia should be able to do it too.
This reader of its online editions would certainly appreciate it and I doubt that I am alone in finding the overlap annoying.
What would be better, of course, would be to see the appearance of the secondary photo simply eliminated.