Day: November 12, 2019

US held nearly 70,000 migrant kids in custody in 2019

COMAYAGUA, Honduras — The 3-year-old girl travelled for weeks cradled in her father’s arms, as he set out to seek asylum in the United States. Now she won’t even look at him.

After being forcibly separated at the border by government officials, sexually abused in U.S. foster care and deported, she arrived back in Honduras withdrawn, anxious and angry, convinced her once-beloved father abandoned her.

He fears their bond is forever broken.

“I think about this trauma staying with her too, because the trauma has remained with me and still hasn’t faded,” he said days after their reunion.

This month new government data shows the little girl is one of an unprecedented 69,550 migrant children held in U.S. government custody over the past year, enough to overflow the typical NFL stadium. That’s more kids detained away from their parents than any other country, according to United Nations researchers. And it’s happening even though the U.S. government has recognized detention can be traumatic for children, putting them at risk of long-term physical and emotional damage.

Some of these migrant children who were in government custody this year have already been deported. Some have reunited with family in the U.S., where they’re trying to go to school and piece back together their lives. About 4,000 are still in government custody, some in large, impersonal shelters. And more arrive every week.

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This story is part of an ongoing joint investigation between The Associated Press and the PBS series FRONTLINE on the treatment of migrant children, which includes the film “Kids Caught in the Crackdown” premiering on PBS and online Nov. 12 at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST.

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The nearly 70,000 migrant children who were held in government custody over the last year — up 42 per cent in fiscal year 2019 from 2018 — spent more time in shelters and away from their families than in prior years. The Trump administration’s series of strict immigration policies has increased the time children spend in detention, despite the government’s own acknowledgment that it does them harm.

“Early experiences are literally built into our brains and bodies,” says Dr. Jack Shonkoff, who directs Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child. Earlier this year, he told Congress that “decades of peer-reviewed research” shows that detaining kids away from parents or primary caregivers is bad for their health.

One Honduran teen who was held in a large detention centre for four months before reuniting with his mother earlier this year said that as each day passed, his fear and anxiety grew.

“There was despair everywhere,” he recalled.

He spoke on condition of anonymity out of concerns for their safety.

The 3-year-old girl, taken from her father when immigration officials caught them near the border in Texas in March 2019, was sent to government-funded foster care. When a caregiver put her on the phone with him, the girl refused to speak, screaming in anger.

What his daughter didn’t, or couldn’t, tell her dad was that another child in her foster home woke her up and began molesting her, according to court records. As the days passed, she began urinating on herself and seemed unable to eat or drink, a foster parent said in the records.

“I felt like I couldn’t do anything to help her,” said her father, who found out about his daughter’s abuse while he was in detention. The father agreed to speak about their case on condition of anonymity for safety reasons.

In June, he gave up and asked a judge to deport them. The government sent him back to Honduras alone. His daughter followed a month later.

On an August afternoon in their hometown, the little girl had her hair tied up in pigtails. She played with her younger sister, but ignored her father and refused to hold his hand.

He didn’t know of any psychological support in their town.

“For now we’re going to try to give her more affection, more love and then if there isn’t a change we’re going to try to find some help,” he said.

Federal law requires the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement to provide migrant children with food, shelter, and medical and mental health care. But the HHS Office of Inspector General found there aren’t enough clinicians in shelters holding migrant children.

HHS spokesman Mark Weber said that with the largest number of migrant children in their program’s history, “you must give credit to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and the shelter network staff for managing a program that was able to rapidly expand and unify the largest number of kids ever, all in an incredibly difficult environment.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics says migrant children who are detained “face almost universal traumatic histories” and warns of serious consequences if left untreated. But few of the thousands of children separated from their parents are receiving therapy after being deported back to Central America. Many are from impoverished communities where there are few, if any, accessible mental health resources.

Nine out of 10 of the migrant children detained last year came from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, with fewer than 3% from Mexico. They’re fleeing Central America where violence and abuse, even murder, are committed with impunity under corrupt governments the U.S. has supported for decades.

Eskinder Negash, who heads the non-profit U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, knows the trauma of separation and detention all too well. He fled Ethiopia alone as a teen after his country was thrown into chaos by a military coup.

Negash also knows what it’s like to suddenly have to care for tens of thousands of migrant children. He was the Obama administration’s ORR director in 2014 when more than 60,000 children arrived at the border. Negash and his team scrambled to shelter them.

Leaving government to head the non-profit refugee support agency USCRI, Negash wanted to do better for children, in the U.S. and abroad.

This summer, USCRI opened a model government-funded shelter in southern Florida, just down the road from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club. Rinconcito del Sol, which translates to “A Little Corner of Sunshine,” has no uniformed security guard at the entrance. The residents, girls 13-17, can call their families as needed staff say, and there are more therapeutic services — including intensive treatment for victims of trafficking and abuse — throughout the week.

“The girls come in very sad, nervous, not knowing what to expect, unsure what the future holds for them,” said shelter director Elcy Valdez. “We give them that sense of security, of safety for the first time.”

Sherman reported from Comayagua, Honduras and Santa Tecla, El Salvador. Burke reported from Lake Worth, Florida. Mendoza reported from Washington, DC. FRONTLINE reporters Daffodil Altan and Andrés Cediel, and AP Data Journalist Larry Fenn contributed to this report.

Christopher Sherman, Martha Mendoza And Garance Burke, The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law November 12, 2019 Off

US held record number of migrant kids in custody in 2019

COMAYAGUA, Honduras — The 3-year-old girl travelled for weeks cradled in her father’s arms, as he set out to seek asylum in the United States. Now she won’t even look at him.

After being forcibly separated at the border by government officials, sexually abused in U.S. foster care and deported, the once bright and beaming girl arrived back in Honduras withdrawn, anxious and angry, convinced her father abandoned her.

He fears their bond is forever broken.

“I think about this trauma staying with her too, because the trauma has remained with me and still hasn’t faded,” he said, days after their reunion.

This month new government data shows the little girl is one of an unprecedented 69,550 migrant children held in U.S. government custody over the past year, enough infants, toddlers, kids and teens to overflow the typical NFL stadium. That’s more kids detained away from their parents than any other country, according to United Nations researchers. And it’s happening even though the U.S. government has acknowledged that being held in detention can be traumatic for children, putting them at risk of long-term physical and emotional damage.

Some of these migrant children who were in government custody this year have already been deported. Some have reunited with family in the U.S., where they’re trying to go to school and piece back together their lives. About 4,000 are still in government custody, some in large, impersonal shelters. And more arrive every week.

___

This story is part of an ongoing joint investigation between The Associated Press and the PBS series FRONTLINE on the treatment of migrant children, which includes the film “Kids Caught in the Crackdown” premiering on PBS and online Nov. 12 at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST.

___

The nearly 70,000 migrant children who were held in government custody this year — up 42 per cent in fiscal year 2019 from 2018 — spent more time in shelters and away from their families than in prior years. The Trump administration’s series of strict immigration policies has increased the time children spend in detention, despite the government’s own acknowledgment that it does them harm. In 2013, Australia detained 2,000 children during a surge of maritime arrivals. In Canada, immigrant children are separated from their parents only as a last resort; 155 were detained in 2018. In the United Kingdom, 42 migrant children were put in shelters in 2017, according to officials in those countries.

“Early experiences are literally built into our brains and bodies,” says Dr. Jack Shonkoff, who directs Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child. Earlier this year, he told Congress that “decades of peer-reviewed research” shows that detaining kids away from parents or primary caregivers is bad for their health. It’s a brain-wiring issue, he said.

“Stable and responsive relationships promote healthy brain architecture,” Shonkoff said. “If these relationships are disrupted, young children are hit by the double whammy of a brain that is deprived of the positive stimulation it needs, and assaulted by a stress response that disrupts its developing circuitry.”

Younger children are at greater risk, because their biological systems are less developed, he said. Previous harm, and the duration of separation, are also more likely to lead to trauma.

One Honduran teen who was held in a large detention centre for four months before reuniting with his mother said that, as each day passed, his fear and anxiety grew.

“There was something there that made us feel desperate. It was freedom. We wanted to be free,” he recalled. “There was despair everywhere.”

Another Honduran teen, who arrived in the U.S. at 16 and was detained in a series of increasingly secure shelters for more than a year, said he saw his peers harm themselves.

“They would cry sometimes, alone, or they would hit themselves against the wall,” he said. “I thought that was because of them being here for such a long time.”

The teens spoke on condition of anonymity out of concerns for their safety.

The 3-year-old Honduran girl was taken from her father when immigration officials caught them near the border in Texas in March 2019 and sent her to government-funded foster care. The father had no idea where his daughter was for three panicked weeks. It was another month before a caregiver put her on the phone but the girl, who turned four in government custody, refused to speak, screaming in anger.

“She said that I had left her alone and she was crying,” said her father during an interview with the AP and Frontline at their home in Honduras. “‘I don’t love you Daddy, you left me alone,’” she told him. The father agreed to speak about their case on condition of anonymity for safety reasons.

What the little girl didn’t, or couldn’t, tell her dad was that another child in her foster home woke her up and began molesting her, according to court records. As the days passed, she began urinating on herself and seemed unable to eat or drink, a foster parent said in the records.

“She’s so small for something like that to happen,” said her father, who found out about his daughter’s abuse while he was in detention. “I felt like I couldn’t do anything to help her.”

Desperate to see his daughter, he begged for a DNA test which, four months into his detention, proved their relationship. Still the government kept them apart. In June, he gave up and asked a judge to reunite him with his daughter and deport them. The government sent him back to Honduras alone. His daughter followed a month later in mid-August.

On an August afternoon in their hometown, the little girl had her hair tied up in pigtails. Her dress was a frilly lavender and her pink sneakers were decorated with bows. She played with her younger sister and snuggled up beside her grandfather, but ignored her father’s entreaties and refused to hold his hand, convinced he tried to leave her for good.

“When I wanted to cradle her in my arms she started to cry,” he said.

He didn’t know of any psychological support in their town to help her process the abuse she suffered.

“For now we’re going to try to give her more affection, more love and then if there isn’t a change we’re going to try to find some help,” he said.

The U.S. government calls migrant children held without their parents “Unaccompanied Alien Children” — UAC in bureaucratic jargon. Federal law requires the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement to provide them food and shelter, and medical and mental health care. But the HHS Office of Inspector General found there aren’t enough clinicians or specialized care in shelters holding migrant children.

HHS spokesman Mark Weber said that, with the largest number of migrant children in their program’s history, “you must give credit to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and the shelter network staff for managing a program that was able to rapidly expand and unify the largest number of kids ever, all in an incredibly difficult environment.”

In an urgent request to fund an emergency shelter earlier this year, HHS warned “Without a way to provide these services, there is an unacceptable risk that thousands of UAC would be without their basic human needs, which would result in injury/death of children.”

In the September issue of the journal Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics says migrant children who are detained “face almost universal traumatic histories.” The group recommends specific therapies to help children recover and reunite with their families, warning of serious consequences if left untreated. But few of the thousands of children separated from their parents are receiving therapy after being deported back to Central America. Many are from impoverished communities where there are few, if any, accessible mental health resources.

The U.S. is now being sued for hundreds of millions of dollars by some families who say their children were harmed by being held in detention, and on Nov. 5 a federal judge ordered the government to immediately provide mental health screenings and treatment to immigrant families traumatized by family separations. The judge found attorneys for separated families presented evidence that the government’s policy “caused severe mental trauma to parents and their children” and that U.S. government officials were “aware of the risks associated with family separation when they implemented it.”

Child trauma expert Ryan Matlow at Stanford University says toxic stress in children is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, heart disease, cancer, and even early death.

“So we want to be a country that inflicts further trauma on individuals who are experiencing intensive adversity and are seeking refuge and help in a neighbouring nation?” asked Matlow, who has met with detained migrant children inside several of the largest migrant detention facilities. “Are we okay with the implications of doing harm to vulnerable children – to 2 and 3-year-olds and to teenagers as well? Is that something that we can accept?”

This year President Donald Trump signed a law approving $2.8 billion for the government to house, transport and care for migrant children. Nine out of 10 come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, with fewer than 3% from Mexico. They’re fleeing Central America often to save their own lives, because violence and abuse, even murder, are committed with impunity under corrupt governments the U.S. has supported for decades.

While children have been arriving alone at the U.S. border for more than a decade, the number of children in government custody has grown sharply over the last two years, largely because they have been held for longer time periods. A few months after Trump took office, the federal agency was caring for about 2,700 children, reuniting them with awaiting relatives or sponsors in about a month. This June, that topped 13,000, and they stayed in custody for about two months.

U.S. immigration authorities have separated more than 5,400 children from their parents at the Mexico border, before, during and after a controversial “zero tolerance” policy was enacted and then ended in the spring of 2018.

Eskinder Negash, who heads the non-profit U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, knows the trauma of separation and detention all too well, and has spent his life seeking solutions.

“I was a refugee, I know what they have gone through,” said Negash, who fled Ethiopia alone as a teen after his country was thrown into chaos by a military coup.

Negash also knows what it’s like to suddenly have to care for tens of thousands of migrant children caught at the border. He was heading the Office of Refugee Resettlement in 2014 under the Obama administration when more than 60,000 children surged over the border, mostly unaccompanied. Negash and his team scrambled to shelter them in a variety of situations, including on military bases. The fallout, at the time, was harsh: human rights advocates who today decry the way children are treated in government custody were, under Obama, frustrated with their care and urged that children be swiftly granted asylum.

Leaving government to head the non-profit refugee support agency USCRI, Negash wanted to do better for children, both in the U.S. and abroad.

In El Salvador, USCRI now runs the Livelihoods project, teaching young adults who were deported from the U.S. skills to support themselves. On a recent visit, students clustered in small groups around workbenches to practice building circuits that would make small motors run. They learn everything from residential and commercial electrical installation to building substations and transformers. Other career tracks include auto mechanic, chef and bartender. Since 2016, about 400 young adults have graduated from the program, which is a partnership with the El Salvador government.

“I don’t think about migrating anymore,” said José Fernando Guillén Rodríguez, 21, who was apprehended in the U.S. at 18 and spent time in adult detention before being deported. Now he’s completed a year of daily electrical classes and works as an apprentice at an electrical construction company.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. this summer, USCRI also opened what Negash hopes is a model government-funded shelter in southern Florida, just down the road from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club. Rinconcito del Sol, which translates to “A Little Corner of Sunshine,” is different than other facilities holding migrant children.

There is no uniformed security guard at the entrance. The residents, girls 13-17, can call their families as needed, staff say, and there are more therapeutic services — including intensive treatment for victims of trafficking and abuse — throughout the week. They sleep two to a room, and are free to wander in a large, outdoor area, or “shop” in a store filled with donated items. Case workers hustle to reunite them with family in the U.S. quickly, averaging four weeks. And costs to taxpayers are a third of the $775 per day costs at large, emergency shelters where kids sleep 100 to a room.

“Here, we change lives,” said shelter director Elcy Valdez, who worked as an ORR federal field specialist visiting a variety of facilities for six years. She saw a variety of operations, and took note of best practices. Today they hope to share their practices with some 170 shelter programs in 23 states.

“The girls come in very sad, nervous, not knowing what to expect, unsure what the future holds for them,” she said. “We give them that sense of security, of safety for the first time.”

___

Sherman reported from Comayagua, Honduras and Santa Tecla, El Salvador. Burke reported from Lake Worth, Florida. Mendoza reported from Washington, DC. FRONTLINE reporters Daffodil Altan and Andrés Cediel, and AP Data Journalist Larry Fenn contributed to this report.

Christopher Sherman, Martha Mendoza And Garance Burke, The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law November 12, 2019 Off

Democrats, GOP to vie for impeachment narrative — on TV

WASHINGTON — Impeachable or not?

Both Democrats and Republicans see the televised impeachment hearings starting this week as their first and best opportunity to shape public opinion about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

Democrats believe the testimony will paint a vivid picture of presidential misconduct. Republicans say it will demonstrate just how lacking the evidence is for impeachment.

They agree on one thing: The stakes as very high.

Democrats plan a narrow focus in the hearings, and a narrative retelling of Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrats as his administration withheld military aid to an Eastern European ally on Russia’s border.

All three witnesses this week — top Ukraine diplomat William Taylor, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — expressed concerns about Trump’s efforts in closed-door depositions last month.

This time they’ll be on live TV — and newscasts for days afterward — for all Americans to see and hear.

The Democrats see all three as highly credible, detail oriented and well positioned to tell that story to the American people.

“This is a very simple, straightforward act,” said California Rep. Jackie Speier, a member of the House intelligence committee, which is conducting the hearings. “The president broke the law. He went on a telephone call with the president of Ukraine and said I have a favour, though, and then proceeded to ask for an investigation of his rival.”

Democrats say their best evidence isn’t even from the witnesses themselves, but from the rough transcript of that July call between Trump himself and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Trump asked for the “favour” of the investigations as Zelenskiy mentioned the military aid.

The witnesses have added detail on the circumstances of the call and have told investigators of concerns swirling in different corners of the administration as Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, pushed for the probes into Democratic rival Joe Biden and his family and into a possible Ukraine role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Taylor and Kent will testify on Wednesday, Yovanovitch on Friday. Yovanovitch plays a central role in the inquiry, as her ouster at Trump and Giuliani’s direction in May raised questions throughout the U.S. diplomatic community. Taylor was brought in to replace her and navigated Trump’s demands throughout the summer as the president brought his requests directly to Zelenskiy.

Kent is a senior State Department official overseeing Ukraine who told investigators that he understood, as other witnesses did, the military aid to be in exchange for the investigations — the quid pro quo that is at the heart of the Democratic probe.

Trump — who will surely be watching at the White House — has strongly denied any quid pro quo, and has bashed the diplomats by saying that none of them had firsthand knowledge of his thinking.

“It seems that nobody has any firsthand knowledge,” the president said last week.

Republican questioning of the witnesses at the hearings is expected to turn on that point.

None of the witnesses has testified to relevant conversations that they had with Trump himself, and several of the accounts involve conversations they heard about from other people. While closed-door testimony from multiple witnesses has largely reinforced the same story, Republicans say that the Democrats don’t have enough direct evidence.

GOP lawmakers are also expected to defend the president’s words on the July call, which Trump has repeatedly called “perfect.” They argue that those words don’t explicitly show a quid pro quo.

The GOP grilling is expected to veer into other arguments as well. A proposed witness list from House Republicans includes some figures from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation — a possible attempt by California Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the intelligence panel, to turn the narrative to GOP concerns that officials at the Department of Justice were biased against Trump.

To make their best case, Republicans have moved one of Trump’s top defenders, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, onto the intelligence panel temporarily. And one of Jordan’s top aides on the Oversight panel, Steve Castor, is expected to question the witnesses at the top of the hearing alongside a top Democratic aide to the intelligence panel, former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman.

While Trump teased on Saturday that he might release the transcript of an earlier call with the Ukrainian president on Tuesday, White House officials are not confirming that. Such a release could be an attempt to dampen the effects of the open hearings Wednesday, though the congressional inquiry has moved beyond just Trump’s call with Zelenskiy.

As Republicans in Congress make their points through questioning at the Capitol, the White House will face its first major communication test since the hiring of former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Treasury spokesman Tony Seyegh to work on what the West Wing calls “proactive impeachment messaging.”

A White House official said Bondi and Seyegh have not started yet and may not be in place before the Wednesday hearings, owing to paperwork associated with entering White House employment.

Since the onset of the impeachment probe, Trump has largely limited his efforts to objecting to the process surrounding the investigation and attacking the career public servants involved as “Never Trumpers.” But he has been under pressure from Republican allies to engage on the substance of the allegations against him — claims that will only grow more vivid once the public testimony begins.

White House officials are co-ordinating with the Republican National Committee and congressional Republicans on rapid response, aiming to shine a spotlight on moments they believe are exculpatory for the president or damaging to his opposition.

The RNC also will be co-ordinating surrogate bookings and local TV hits, with an emphasis on putting pressure on vulnerable House Democrats. Eric Trump will hold a conference call Thursday with local reporters across the country, with an emphasis on keeping pressure on those Trump-district Democrats.

But Trump’s strategy has put Republicans who feel uncomfortable with his behaviour in a difficult position, too. Some of those lawmakers have tried a different strategy.

“I believe it was inappropriate. I do not believe it was impeachable,” said Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, of Trump’s call for the Ukraine investigations of Democrats.

But Thornberry soon saw the limits of that approach — at least in the president’s eyes.

“The call to the Ukrainian President was PERFECT,” Trump tweeted shortly after Thornberry’s television appearance. “Read the Transcript! There was NOTHING said that was in any way wrong. Republicans, don’t be led into the fools trap of saying it was not perfect, but is not impeachable. No, it is much stronger than that. NOTHING WAS DONE WRONG!”

Speier and Thornberry both spoke on ABC’s “This Week.”

___

AP Writer Zeke Miller contributed.

Mary Clare Jalonick And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press



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Former student sues St. Michael’s College School after alleged sex assault on campus

Warning: This story includes graphic content that may be disturbing to some readers.

TORONTO — A former student at a private all-boys school in Toronto who was the victim of an alleged sexual assault on campus last year has filed a lawsuit against the institution alleging it failed to keep him safe.

The teenager and his family filed the $1.65 million suit last week in Ontario’s Superior Court against St. Michael’s College School, its board, three former students and the Basilian Fathers who run the school, as well as some coaches and administrators.

The court also granted the teenager and his family the ability to proceed with the suit without being identified in court documents.

The teen’s lawyer said Monday the suit is important because of the “horrendous nature” of what happened to his client.

“He has suffered a tremendous amount over the last year. Not only did he have to go through the trauma of being assaulted in the way he did; he was then taunted and then bullied after that when it came to light, when it went public,” Iain MacKinnon said in an interview.

The allegations have not been proven in court and those named in the lawsuit have not yet responded. St. Michael’s declined to comment, and the Basilian Fathers could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Police began an investigation last year into numerous allegations of sex assault and assault at the prestigious Catholic school. Toronto police eventually laid charges against seven students related to two alleged sex assaults and one assault against two victims involving players from one of the school’s football teams.

The allegations made international headlines and prompted a national discussion on bullying and hazing.

Last month, three teens pleaded guilty to one count each of sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon — the weapon being a broom stick — for their roles in two incidents. One of the teens pleaded guilty to making child pornography after filming the sex assault on his cellphone. The trio’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for this week.

Charges against another student were dropped in the summer, while the cases of two other students have concluded but the Ministry of the Attorney General has not disclosed those outcomes, citing provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The final student facing charges is scheduled to go to trial next year.

The civil suit filed last week marks the first time one of the victims has detailed his plight and the fallout.

The teen, referred to as John Doe in the his statement of claim, alleges he endured months of ridicule after being bullied and sexually assaulted by his teammates.

The incident left him struggling with depression, anxiety, emotional trauma and insomnia, according to the documents.

The first incident occurred in September 2018 when the teen, a member of one of the school football teams, alleges he was in the locker room when three teammates grabbed him, pinned him to the floor and pulled down his pants. Then, he says, the three boys hit his buttocks “violently” and repeatedly with their hands and with a broom stick.

Another student filmed the incident on his cellphone, which was shared widely within and outside the school, according to the documents.

Afterward, the documents say, other students taunted him while on campus, saying “(John Doe) loves broom.”

The taunts followed the teen outside school, with hockey opponents jeering him on the ice and others bullying him in his neighbourhood, the documents allege.

In mid-October, he said three teammates approached him in the school’s locker room after practice.

He tried to run away, but they tripped him, the documents say, and then dragged him back across the locker room. The trio pinned him and several students repeatedly inserted a broom handle into his anus, the documents say. The teen says he yelled in pain.

The incident was again filmed, but soon deleted at the teen’s request, according to the documents.

A few days later, a “diss track” was shared widely on social media that featured a rap that “(the teen) loves brooms,” his father wrote in an affidavit.

“It has caused him and his parents a great deal of stress and turmoil,” MacKinnon said.

“They really want to hold people accountable who allowed this to happen — particularly the school.”

This report by the Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2019.

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‘Our gratitude is immeasurable’: 92nd annual Remembrance Day ceremony held at Toronto cemetery

A Remembrance Day service was held on Monday morning at a cemetery in Toronto’s west end where fallen soldiers were buried more than 100 years ago.

“At a time when there was a need to find suitable area to bury our fallen soldiers,” the manager of the cemetery, located on St. Clair Avenue West near Dufferin Street, Patty Harris told the hundreds of people attending the 8 a.m. ceremony.

“Known as the ‘Field of Honour,’ it is a space where we can pay tribute together to remember our veterans who endured many hardships, who fight in protection of the freedom we enjoy today.”

ceremony

“This morning, we remember together the courage of the thousands who have gone into battle to secure our future because without the strength and bravery of our veterans we would not be in the country we are in today.”

Harris said “our gratitude is immeasurable.”

This is the 92nd year of the Sunrise Service being held, which honours Canadian and allied veterans and their spouses.

Reverend Nelsona Dundas from Bloordale United Church presided over the ceremony.

“We remember the thousands who fell and now lie among the poppies in fields far away,” she said. “We remember their families and loved ones as they remember this day.”

Among those honouring loved ones who fought in the First World War was Walter Stevens. He said his great-grandfather was a war veteran, but he only found out in the past decade.

ceremony

“After the First World War, they took the fort and garrisoned it out to families when they came back,” he recalled. “Myself and my grandmother and great aunts all lived there as a family unit right up until his death in 1932.”

“I’ve been coming every year – this is my ninth year in a row – ever since I found out. Family doesn’t relate history very well as you grow up as a child so you don’t hear anything, even my grandparents, both my grandfathers, they never talked about the war so you only find stuff out later on when you research it all on your own.”

Mayor John Tory was also in attendance of the ceremony and laid a wreath at the Cross of Sacrifice on behalf of the City of Toronto.

The cross is a Commonwealth war memorial designed in 1918 by Sir Reginald Blomfield and installed in Commonwealth war cemeteries containing 40 or more graves. Prospect Cemetery is one of the oldest in Canada and was built in 1890.

The Toronto ceremony was started by members of the ladies auxiliaries in the years following the end of the First World War.

Each year when the ceremony is held, the members lay a long-stemmed poppy on each veteran’s grave to honour their service and sacrifice.

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By The Wall of Law November 12, 2019 Off