C.W. Jefferys ruling will be appealed by Crown

JP quashed charges of failing to report assault
Toronto Star, May 10, 2008 Kristin Rushowy

The Crown plans to appeal a decision that quashed charges against the principal and two vice-principals at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate, says Ontario's attorney general.

Wednesday, a justice of the peace threw out charges against the trio of failing to report an alleged gang sex assault of a girl in the school's washroom in October 2006.

Chris Bentley said yesterday his ministry is waiting for a report from the prosecutor before the appeal goes ahead, as procedure dictates.

Justice of the Peace Gabriel John said the charges against Charis Newton-Thompson, former principal at the Toronto school, and former vice-principals Stan Gordon and Silvio Tallevi were sworn last December – well after the six-month time limit in the Provincial Offences Act.

Bentley said yesterday the Crown believes the "charges were laid within the necessary time."

The alleged assault was uncovered by a safety panel looking into conditions at the Toronto high school after the shooting death of Jordan Manners last May. It was last June when Julian Falconer – who headed the panel – took the information to the Toronto District School Board's director of education, who called police. Six males have since been charged with gang sex assault.

Allegations had also been made at the time that school administrators knew of the attack, and had even transferred the girl to another school, but did not tell police or children's aid. Six months later, in December 2007, police laid the failure to report charges.

In court last week, defence lawyer Michael Caroline argued that because the Child and Family Services Act, under which the charges were laid, does not specify a time limit, the court must follow the six-month limit under the Provincial Offences Act.

The Child and Family Services Act only says evidence or suspicion of abuse must be reported "forthwith." Punishment for not doing so is a $1,000 fine.

Bentley also said it is the Crown's position the alleged offences are "continuing offences" – meaning if found guilty, the trio could each face a $1,000 fine for every day the alleged assault went unreported.

Newton-Thompson and Gordon are on "home assignment," paid but not working. Tallevi has retired.