A crushing sentence and a Judge who can’t get it right

di Joe Volpe del 23 December 2019

TORONTO - Thursday, December 19, 2019, Judge Brian Weagant’s Courtroom. How could everything go so bad? It should have been an easy “slam dunk” – a sentencing hearing to determine the level of “punishment”.

Three young men, former disgraced and expelled students at a private school, St. Michael College School, charged with assault, sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon on some of their fellow students, had already pleaded guilty.

One of them had taken the trouble to video the attacks and circulate them on social media – even going so far to “sell” access to this child pornography.

The parents of the victims had already launched a civil suit against the school, its Board and some Staff. Maybe they were unhappy at the slow pace of the police investigation, the judicial process… or simply “doing something” just to avoid collapsing into a mind-set favourable to vigilantism.

Justice Weagant’s ruling was, to put it mildly, egregiously unhelpful: two years probation with seemingly no conditions. He couldn’t even bring himself to reading the full sentence, claiming that the room was too noisy, and he did not want to be misunderstood.

Everyone else in the public marketplace understood:” bad boys” don’t deserve punishment.

A female member of the Defense team went on talk radio to cry that these boys (and their families) have been su ering ever since the incident – she was talking about the [convicted] aggressors who had pleaded guilty on all charges.

They have trouble being accepted, no schools want them, she whined – so like the insensitive counsel to Marco Muzzo a few years ago who wanted sympathy and empathy for his client after he killed three young children and their grandfather with his car. There must be a set communications line all students from their Law School must learn as a condition of graduation.

Justice Weagant would seem to agree that it wasn’t the fault of the students. Referring to pretrial psychological assessments of the culprits, he “concluded that the stage was set for these terrible events by existing school culture.” Wow!

“This normalization of assaultive behaviour among the boys appears to have created an environment at the school, which provided the opportunity for even more concerning behaviours to take place,” said Weagant.

Understand what he is saying in layman’s terms. “Situation normal”: Sta asleep at the switch; Coaches derelict in their social responsibilities; an indi erent Administration and Board; Uncontrolled Bullying… Boys raping other boys. One is tempted to say: “The man is an idiot”. But he is a judge.

With such a sentence and broadbrush observation as justification he has also weakened the victims’ case in Civil Court.

In other words, the victims and their parents bought into the culture at St. Mike’s knowingly; they have only themselves to blame. Besides, it is Christmas.

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