On July 23, CBC broke the news that Ian Sheriff, one of the former McGill Redmen football players facing sexual assault charges, was working at a youth program run by McGill Athletics for children ages 6 to 15. The public outcry following the story prompted reactions from the administration, including a statement from Provost Anthony Masi condemning Sheriff’s hire, and the formation of a committee with the purpose of reviewing the hire, as well as general hiring processes at McGill.
Sheriff, along with his then teammates Brenden Carriere and Guillaume Tremblay, was charged in July 2012 with the sexual assault of a former Concordia student. The three faced no disciplinary action from McGill or the Redmen football team, and only after the charges were publicized in the Montreal Gazette in the fall of 2013 did McGill commit to addressing the issue of sexual assault. In March, McGill held a Forum on Consent and created a Liaison Officer (Harm Reduction) position.
The CBC article has now brought to light the fact that Sheriff had been working at McGill for the past three years despite the sexual assault charges. An anonymous source told The Daily that his job at the camp involved working with children of all age groups, and that in the summer of 2013 he was a counsellor for a group of eight- to ten-year-old boys, even though, according to Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Ollivier Dyens’ comments in an interview with the Montreal Gazette, McGill had been made aware of the charges in May 2013.
Surprise and disappointment
The Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) expressed disappointment at the news of Sheriff’s hiring.
“SACOMSS was surprised and dismayed to learn that one of the people involved in this case continued to be employed by McGill and acting as a University representative late into this summer,” read a statement released by the organization.
SACOMSS also urged the administration to review its hiring policies, and called for the creation of a sexual assault policy at McGill, “which would assist in navigating areas such as University employment.”
“It is clear that much work needs to be done on and off campus for McGill to be a safer space for survivors of sexual assault,” SACOMSS concluded.
SACOMSS’ comments followed a statement released by Masi on behalf of the administration on July 23, in which Masi condemned the hiring of Sheriff at the university’s sports camp and implied that it likely occurred due to an error by the Athletics department. Masi claimed that, as of that evening, Sheriff was no longer working at the sports camp. He also asserted that Sheriff would not be returning to the Athletics department or to McGill – which would have been unlikely in any case, as Sheriff graduated from McGill’s Economics program in May.
Masi told CBC that he had found out about Sheriff’s employment at the camp only after reading its article on the subject, published earlier that day.
In an interview with The Daily, Dean of Students Andre Costopoulos was unable to confirm whether Sheriff had been fired or had quit. Indeed, all he added to Masi’s statement was that an ad-hoc committee had been formed to review the situation.
“The mandate of the committee will be to look into this particular incident and to look at policies and procedures more broadly,” explained Costopoulos. The committee’s terms of reference have been established, though it has yet to release any reports.
A brief overview of the McGill Redmen sexual assault case
Three Redmen football players – Ian Sheriff, Guillaume Tremblay, and Brenden Carriere – allegedly sexually assault a Concordia student.
The three players are arrested for sexual assault.
Sheriff, Tremblay, and Carriere are officially charged with sexual assault with a weapon. They are also charged with forcible confinement, though this charge is later dropped. The players face no disciplinary action from the University.
McGill is made aware of sexual assault charges, according to Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Ollivier Dyens’ comments in an interview with the Montreal Gazette.
The Montreal Gazette publishes an article that details the now 16-month-old sexual assault charges, noting that all three players are still on the football team. The three Redmen players involved quit the football team after the charges against them are made public. Dyens releases a statement from McGill that addresses the case.
Full statement from SACOMSS:
After we learned last November that three McGill students are under investigation for sexual assault and continued to act as student ambassadors on the football team during this time, many difficult and productive conversations began regarding the appropriate role of these students on campus and within McGill athletics. Therefore, SACOMSS was surprised and dismayed to learn that one of the people involved in this case continued to be employed by McGill and acting as a University representative late into this summer. We remain concerned and confused regarding this update, and we hope that Provost Masi and McGill’s stated commitment to a thorough review of their hiring policies will be followed through in the very near future. We also remain committed to the development of a sexual assault policy at McGill, the creation of which would assist in navigating areas such as University employment. It is clear that much work needs to be done on and off campus for McGill to be a safer space for survivors of sexual assault.