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School scandal grows

WINNIPEG — Police have laid dozens more charges in an alleged sexual assault scandal at St. John’s-Ravenscourt School, a private facility that houses students from across Canada and around the world.

Four senior male students, who were originally charged in April with sexually assaulting, confining and threatening a younger boy, now face a total of 82 charges against 16 alleged victims. It is alleged the older boys held down younger ones, sometimes placing a wood stick against their buttocks and threatening to harm them.

The events are alleged to have occurred over several months in 2009 at the school’s boarding house. The boarding facilities are supervised by adults, and school officials were still at a loss Tuesday to explain what happened.

“It’s probably the big question for us as an institution,” said headmaster Stephen Johnson.

“It was certainly quite a shock to us given the size of the boarding population and ... the ratio of adults-to-kids.”

The oldest student to be charged is an 18-year-old from China, who quit the school in April rather than face expulsion. The other three were minors who either quit or were suspended indefinitely.

School officials passed on the alleged victims’ complaints to police. While police said the investigation is ongoing, Johnson said the charges now include all the complainants and suspected perpetrators he has heard about.

The school has also hired an outside consultant to review the school’s security measures, he said.

“He has interviewed quite a few people already and he’ll continue to do so, probably until the early fall, to provide the board of governors and me with some direction, some recommendations as to what if anything we need to do differently.”

St. John’s-Ravenscourt has 830 students enrolled in classes from kindergarten to Grade 12, and boards some 50 students from Grade 8 and up.

 
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