A 13-year-old-girl was charged Friday in connection with two recent assaults in Saskatoon, but police say that many of the other children caught on camera in the playground beating aren’t old enough for charges.
The teenager, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, appeared in court to face two counts of assault. She has since been released from custody.
The first incident happened on the evening of May 13, when a 10-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl reported being assaulted by a group of young people.
The second alleged assault occurred on May 20, when Bonnie Halcrow, 33, was swarmed by a group of at least four people, in an incident that was captured on video by a bystander.
The video shows multiple children kicking and hitting Halcrow, who falls to the ground.
“My back is still hurting. I can’t sleep on my sides, I have to sleep on my belly,” Halcrow told CTV Saskatoon on Friday, adding that she was “shocked” that a suspect was arrested.
“I just couldn’t believe it. Like, I didn’t think any of them would be identified.”
A second teenager allegedly involved in the playground attack faces charges but has not been arrested, police said.
But most of the children seen in the video are under the age of 12, which means they are too young to be charged.
“We will be looking at working with our community partners and seeing if there’s some way to address the behavior. But from a legal standpoint, we are unable to lay charges,” said police spokeswoman Kelsie Fraser.
Fraser said police have been receiving calls about a group of young people “causing disturbances” in the neighbourhood for weeks.
“Until recently, their behavior didn’t enter into that criminal threshold, but we have been receiving a number of calls,” she said.
Saskatoon city councilor Hilary Gough said the community needs to address the incident and find ways to prevent similar ones in the future. But she also suggested that these sorts of attacks are uncommon.
“This is not a huge number of youth and this isn’t something we see often and we should be working to see that we don’t see this in our community,” she said.
Even if many of the alleged attackers aren’t old enough to face legal repercussions, their behavior should be addressed, Halcrow said.
“They need to be put through a program that will open their eyes to what their futures, their actions and what they do will lead them to,” she said.
The 13-year-old suspect has been ordered to stay away from the victims and the other children involved. She is scheduled to appear again in court on June 6.