Hate crime charges considered against teen - Crime - Canoe.ca (external - login to view)
By James Turner, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - Manitoba Justice is considering hate-crime-related charges in the case of a Winnipeg high school student accused of lighting a Jewish girl's hair on fire with a lighter after spewing anti-Semitic comments at her.
The boy, 15, was suspended from Oak Park High School last week and arrested by police who charged him with assault with a weapon. He has since been withdrawn from the school by his guardian, the Superintendent of Education for the Pembina Trails School Division said Monday.
According to Lawrence Lussier, the attack happened in a hallway after the end of classes on Nov. 19. Due to the time it happened, there were no staff around to witness the event nor put a stop to it, he said.
The victim — who police say was uninjured — reported it to school officials at the start of the next school week, he said. Police said they were notified and began investigating on Nov. 25.
“The victim and her friends are concerned and shaken and we are offering counselling to whoever may need it,” said Lussier. Const. Rob Carver said the attack came from “out of nowhere,” and is unlike anything he's ever seen in his two decades as a police officer.
Of key concern is the age of the accused boy, Carver said. “This is very young to be holding such hardened racist views,” he said.
The Crown's office, not police, must authorize any hate-related charges due to their nature, Carver said. The police file is currently under review by prosecutors.
Lussier said the school division is sending letters to all Oak Park parents and guardians to inform them of what happened and what measures officials are taking.
The school has an ongoing character education program that has been active for a couple years, he said, and officials will be putting further focus on that program.