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Inappropriate behaviour by coaches 'normalized' at Montreal high school: report


A government report into a Montreal high school where three basketball coaches were charged with sexual assault suggests that female student-athletes were put into vulnerable situations over a 20-year period in a school culture that "normalized" the behaviour.

Quebec's Ministry of Education mandated the report into Saint-Laurent High School after the coaches were arrested at the school in February 2022.

"Without commenting … it is more likely than not that the dignity of some female basketball players has not been respected during their time at Saint-Laurent School over the past 20 years," stated the 24-page report obtained by CTV News.

"These young people have not benefitted from a healthy and safe environment."

Controls within the basketball program were "inadequate," leaving students "in a position of vulnerability," according to the report.

"Several of them nevertheless witnessed gestures or words that should have been the subject of an intervention or reported to the competent authorities, namely the school administration."

The findings in the report were not a complete surprise to Mélanie Lemay, co-founder of the advocacy group Québec Contre les Violences Sexuelles (Quebec Against Sexual Violence).

"I think it's interesting that this time we have it written down in an official report that shows that what we hear from the ground is not only weird stories, it's actually the truth, that actually sexual predators are around kids every single day in schools, and nobody's doing anything to protect them," she said.


CTV News filed an access-to-information request in July 2022 to obtain the report, but the education ministry refused to release it. While waiting for an appeal to be heard, the ministry provided a copy of the report to CTV News this week with several pages redacted.

The school at the centre of the controversy is on Thimens Boulevard in Montreal's Saint-Laurent borough. A mother of one of the students has previously told CTV News that the basketball team's head coach had a history of bad behaviour and the school did nothing about it.

"Screaming, denigrating, dragging the girls through the mud," the mother said in describing his approach in an interview last February, adding that "everybody knew."

She said the school only took action after the charges were laid.

Montreal police charged three coaches at Saint-Laurent High School with sex-related offences. From left: Charles-Xavier Boislard, 43, Daniel Lacasse, 43, and Robert Luu, 31. (Source: Montreal police handout)

The report, completed in June 2022, looked into the school as well as the Quebec Basketball Federation and the Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Service Centre.

It identified gaps in the supervision of the basketball program. For example, the basketball federation is not informed when a complaint is filed with the "Je porte plainte" complaint service of the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ), the governing body of sports within the primary and secondary school system.

"A coach can therefore accumulate reports of unacceptable behaviour … without being the subject to special scrutiny," according to the report.

It said the investigation demonstrated how "a harmful ethical culture can take hold and become normalized over time if adequate intervention is not made."


Some of the recommendations in the report include making training on bystander intervention mandatory at the school to break the cycle of "inaction" when inappropriate behaviours are observed. It also called for an independent financial audit of the school's sports programs.

The government also recommended changing the culture of sports programs at the school, including clarifying the definition of sexual exploitation.

"Despite consenting to sexual activity or reaching the age of consent, any person in a position of authority or trust over a young person, to whom the young person is in a relationship of dependency, may not engage in sexual activity with young people. Thus, it must be clear that relationships between coaches and student-athletes cannot be permitted or normalized in schools," the report said.

The Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Service Centre said in an email to CTV News that it would not comment on the report to avoid interfering with the criminal and administrative proceedings.

"However, we would like to point out that the CSSMB is currently working on the various actions that will make it possible to respond to all of the recommendations made by the Ministère de l'Éducation last July," said spokesperson Mélanie Simard.

The findings in the report showed that Quebec needs to pass legislation to offer better training for teachers and coaching staff to prevent these kinds of situations from happening, according to Québec Contre les Violences Sexuelles.

Melanie Lemay is the co-founder of the advocacy group Québec Contre les Violences Sexuelles. (Submitted photo)

The group's co-founder said recommending training is a step in the right direction, but a law would go a step further to have better oversight in school and keep kids safe.

"I believe that if there's training, but there's nothing behind to make sure it's reinforced and it creates a cultural shift, we're going to continue to shift to fail students," Lemay said.

"Twenty years from now, we're going to see the same kind of cases happening again." Top Stories

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