Vive Le Canada

Sex assault charges called an `injustice'
Date: Wednesday, November 16 2005

Students get bail at tense hearing
Parents angry at school and police
Sex charges called `injustice' Parents angry at school and police

Sex assault charges called an `injustice'
Nov. 16, 2005. 06:47 AM

In a courtroom overflowing with media, police and supporters of the accused, 14 of the young people charged with sexually assaulting a teenager were granted bail yesterday after a tense, sometimes raucous hearing.

The accused, all students at James Cardinal McGuigan Catholic Secondary School in North York, were among 16 arrested after a 16-year-old girl told police she had been sexually assaulted repeatedly since September 2004.

The allegations and arrests have raised disturbing questions about school safety, police-community relations and race. Police said most of the alleged assaults occurred in or near the school.

Parents have complained that school and police officials were slow to inform them of the charges. All of those arrested are black, while the accuser is white.

The 14 accused, who can't be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, appeared before a justice of the peace in the Ontario Court of Justice on Finch Ave. W. and were led into the courtroom in small groups. After being arrested at school Monday and spending the night in jail, many of them still wore the black slacks and white shirts of their school uniform.

When the first group of five youths crammed into the prisoner's box, each of them gazed out over the courtroom, trying to make eye contact with friends or relatives.

The crowd grumbled loudly when the accused were referred to as prisoners by the Crown, prompting the justice of the peace to warn them to stay quiet.

"They ain't prisoners," one person blurted in an angry whisper.

The 14, all suspended from the school, were released on $1,500 bail and ordered not to contact each other or the victim. They also must stay away from the school, give up their cellphones and pagers, and attend every class if another school admits them. Besides trips to school and to their lawyers' offices, they must stay at home unless they are out with their sureties.

The 14 will return to court Nov. 25.

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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