Friday, April 16, 2010
LOCAL NEWS WINNIPEG:
ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY BROOM:
Ah Winnipeg mon amour. Like pretty well every other burg with a population greater than three people and one dog Winnipeg has its "boosters". Sometimes they actually make a good "score" in terms of publicity as in the ever cost escalating Museum of Human Rights. Such things, however, rarely live up to even 1/10th of the original hype. What Winnipeg is is basically a city that failed to live up to its original promise and which has drifted ever since. This may not necessarily be a bad thing as the consequences of "greatness" can often be negative rather than positive. Winnipeg is also unique in Canada as being in the only province where the capital city accounts for 2/3rds of the provincial population. Only St. john's and Newfoundland comes even vaguely close. This may also be good as it is an early start towards the idea of Winnipeg as a self- governing "city state".
That being said the efforts of the "civic boosters" are even more patently absurd in a place like Winnipeg. No, this place will never be the first choice for a neurosurgeon's convention, though it is in the running against Bedrock for holding the next convention of the Imperial Order of the Water Buffalo. Now I don't say that Winnipeg is the deepest pit in Canada. Far from it. I spent 14 years in "beautiful" downtown Regina, and if efforts to promote Winnipeg may be termed "pathetic" then efforts to promote Regina might qualify as "crimes against humanity". Winnipeg's "firsts" include its long running title as "car theft capital of Canada" in which it surpasses almost all American cities. It is also always in the running for "murder capital of Canada" even when you include the pest holes that are less than half a million in population. In this, of course, there are many American cities that top anything Canada may have.
Still, believe it or not I actually like Winnipeg, and not just because I know of places that are worse. It has its virtues, and one of them is that the average citizen knows enough to treat the boosters with the mockery they deserve. It's a place of common sense in other words. There are many other places where the population generally believes the Chamber of Commerce booster bullshit. The "unofficial anthem" of this ville is the Weakerthans' 'I hate Winnipeg', and even our Mayor (Sneaky) Sammy Katz has enough of a Winnipeger's sense of humour to like this tune. Says something. Says a lot.
Now the efforts of the civic boosters may be futile in terms of attracting tourist dollars. Most of them revolve around the concept of of "being within driving distance of something actually worth visiting" anyways. Despite this Winnipeg has repeatedly received worldwide publicity in the last month due to three incidents, all of them ,of course, connected more or less with (ahem) "sex". One of them, reported previously here at Molly's Blog, is the case of Pizzeria Gusto where the firing of the chef was connected with a supposedly salacious tell all book by a community college student. Reality beats reality TV in this case, and the student's future career is firmly established. She's probably selling rights in New York as we speak. Then there was the "lap dance heard round the world" where the "pep rally" antics of two teachers went viral on You Tube. Finally, there is what follows, a replay of the old buggery in the private school story (told for the 250,000th time), about criminal events at the St. John's Ravenscourt boarding school. What can I say ? Winnipeg may not be able to support a major league hockey team, but it seems we can support a major league humping team.
The story below from our local paper the Winnipeg Free Press tells the latest news about the case with four students and ex-students charged and the police in "search" of two others". As a bit of a "backgrounder" to our non-Winnipeg readers St. John's Ravenscourt is a private school established by the Anglican Church (though I think it is independent today). To our British readers "private school" in Canada equals "public school" in England. To everyone else the reverse is the case. The criminal charges involve senior students swarming younger ones, stripping them down and either actually sticking a stick up their asses or threatening to do so. One can imagine the adolescent hard-ons in the mob that participates. Sexy, sexy, sexy.
Now you have to understand that private schools in Canada are very much like private schools elsewhere in the "anglosphere". They are places where the ruling class sends their miserable little progeny for training on how to be...members of the ruling class. Stands to reason doesn't it ? As such one can only speculate whether the Winnipeg City Police (not the largest outfit in the world) will ever catch up with the two others they are looking for. The 'Reginalds' and the 'Percivals' may be enjoying Tuscan skies as we speak. I wonder what the weather is like in Provence this time of year ?
Now there are lots of other things that one may speculate on. How much of the "tradition" of this sort of thing comes from the old idea of the English boarding school ? The British Empire (now happily deceased) was ,after all, founded on buggery, maintained on buggery and died with its bad thing in the wrong place. I may be wrong, but I'd say less than you might imagine. I put this down to a failure on the part of teachers in such places in imparting good English usage to their students. The students at such places are, of course, being trained as members of the ruling class, to do exactly what they did to the younger students to the working class. The problem revolves around the fact that their teachers haven't been able to communicate the difference between literal and figurative to the little Lords. Time for some serious "in-service" ( a greater term of evasion I have never heard) for these "educators".
Then there's another problem here that I brought up with the wife over dinner last night. Being part of the "onlooking mob" is actually a criminal act even if you never personally shove the stick up the ass yourself. Oh Oh !! What percentage of the senior students actually took part in these little fun and games ? Can you say close to 100%, excluding the nerd that nobody else wanted anything to do with ? Can you actually charge the entire progeny of the province's ruling class ? Think about it. The whole idea is absurd. It's about on the level of declaring an anarcho-communist society tomorrow. So, if nothing else, as the actual law will be ignored in this case, this is one more demonstration of how "law" actually operates in our society.
Oh, lest you think I forgot. here's the news item.
Police seek more suspects
Judge orders two accused youths to surrender passports
By: Kevin Rollason and Gabrielle Giroday
Winnipeg police are looking for two more St. John's-Ravenscourt School students as suspects in a sexual-assault investigation that has already led to the arrests of four students.
And a judge has ordered two of the accused youths who were granted bail Thursday to turn in their passports over fears they might flee the country.
Three are youths who appeared at the Manitoba Youth Court on Thursday. An 18-year-old suspect, a student from China in his second year at SJR, was charged as an adult. He has no prior record.
The accused appeared by video from the Winnipeg Remand Centre but said nothing. He remains in custody there.
Eight days after a student first talked to school officials, police charged four teens Thursday with sexual assault with a weapon, forcible confinement, and uttering threats.
It's alleged the senior boarding students threatened the younger male boarders, holding them down and placing a wooden stick up against their buttocks, sometime during the fall session between September and December. As many as 15 students may have been targeted.
Police said the charges were based on an interview with one victim Wednesday, and more charges are pending.
"There are a number of victims, or possible victims, that will be interviewed in the near future," said city police spokeswoman Const. Jackie Chaput.
CFS will also be investigating the school.
"We want to make sure that this investigation is conducted as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. We don't want to put any undue pressure on other potential victims that are out there," she said.
Chaput said the WPS child-abuse and sex-crimes units are handling the investigation.
"It's clearly another level of concern," said Stephen Johnson, head of the elite private school in Fort Garry. "Those are very serious charges."
A letter to parents last Friday said two students were to face a disciplinary committee and two students were suspended for five days in connection after information emerged "students were assaulting other students in boarding."
At least four boys from grades eight, nine, 10 and 11 were affected, said Johnson.
"It just redoubles our efforts to make sure we work with our boys in boarding and the boarding staff to get to the bottom of what happened," said Johnson. "Whether it was four or 14 (victims), it doesn't matter, it's still a problem."
Johnson said school officials did not delay giving information to police before officers arrested and charged the four students.
He said additional information from an internal SJR investigation was turned over to police on Tuesday, after school officials asked officers to put down what they needed in writing.
Johnson said legal counsel instructed the school to consult with the affected families before going to police.
The two suspended students will be able to continue their studies, and the two who withdrew will be able to get an SJR diploma through online work and distance education.
Two of the accused voluntarily withdrew from the school Tuesday after a disciplinary committee recommended expulsion.
Two more, who were suspended for five days last week, will not be allowed to return to school until CFS officials clear it.
A source said the charges announced Thursday relate to a single incident involving a roommate of one of the four teen suspects. The charges only came to light after an SJR teacher allegedly overheard a remark made by an SJR student that led to further questions, said the source.
As of Thursday, the victim and one of the accused were still friends on the social-networking site Facebook.
Parents at the school originally learned of the allegations last Friday after a letter was sent about an assault. A letter this Monday said police had been contacted, after school officials spoke to the affected families.
One St. John's-Ravenscourt parent said he was "disgusted" with the way the incident was handled and is investigating other schools. Parents were asked by St. John's-Ravenscourt not to speak to the media.
"I don't know what the hell they were waiting for," he said.
A letter sent to SJR parents Thursday afternoon said none of the accused students was allowed back in the school.
"Police still have more interviews to do with students and there may be more charges laid against these four individuals resulting from those interviews," said the letter.
It continues later: "As you can imagine our boarders have families living halfway across the world and speak many languages. Keeping the parents of the affected children informed and getting parental permission at different steps in the process takes time and patience."
Sheldon Pinx, who represents the adult charged, said his client is anxious to proceed with a bail hearing, possibly this afternoon.
"He's never been in this kind of a situation before," said Pinx, who had wanted to have a bail hearing Thursday. The Crown, however, asked for a one-day adjournment, after apparently getting a package of material from police just 10 minutes before court, with other materials still to come.
Pinx said all he had is a two-page summary of the case. "We're waiting on a significant amount of disclosure, which hasn't been sent over to us yet."
He has no family in Winnipeg, but does have good family and friends here who will be supporting him as part of the bail plan, Pinx said.
Pinx said a special hearing may go as early as 2 p.m. today, although he conceded it could be pushed to next week if he still doesn't have disclosure and the Crown is not consenting.
Meanwhile, at the Manitoba Youth Centre on Thursday, the three suspects looked calm as they listened to the proceedings. At the side of the courtroom, the parents of one of the youths and a family member of the third looked sad during the hearing.
Judge Sid Lerner agreed to let all three out on bail as long as they agreed to certain conditions, including the surrendering of their passports, not having any contact with the alleged victim, not going within two blocks of the private school, making weekly personal appearances with justice officials and putting up $10,000 sureties.
-- with files from Mike McIntyre