Two of three teenage boys accused of attacking support workers at their residential treatment centre have now admitted their roles in the brutal beating.
On Monday, the day his trial was set to begin, the 17-year-old who was accused of encouraging the other boys to commit the crimes pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit robbery. He can't be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
He was 16 at the time of the attack, which happened May 29 at the Behavioural Health Foundation's addictions and mental-health treatment centre in Selkirk. The former resident of the facility was initially charged with several criminal offences, including aggravated assault, forcible confinement, theft of a motor vehicle, robbery with an imitation weapon and counselling another person to be party to a criminal offence. The other charges were dropped as a result of his guilty plea.
Provincial court Judge Sandra Chapman accepted the teen's guilty pleas, which he offered in soft-spoken agreement to his defence lawyer, Barry Sinder. He looked down at the floor during his time in court. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of arson in an unrelated March 2016 incident in which two vehicles were set ablaze.
Details of his role in the Selkirk attack are expected to become clear when the teen is sentenced in June. Two other boys, ages 16 and 17, were accused of severely beating two female support staff with a baseball bat and pool balls stuffed into a sock. The women — one of whom was a practicum student — were left with serious injuries including skull fractures and vision loss. They were the only staff on duty that night as the facility was winding down operations, scheduled to close last June over a lack of funding.
One other teen has pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and forcible confinement for beating both women, tying the older support worker to a chair so she couldn't escape, and stealing the truck keys out of the practicum student's pocket as she lay in her own blood. His sentencing hearing is set for next month.
Jackie Healey, a student in Red River College’s child and youth care program, was completing the final shift of her three-week practicum at the treatment centre when she and the other woman were attacked. The beating left her with vision loss, broken bones and bouts of anxiety and depression. She is suing the college and the Behavioural Health Foundation, arguing both institutions had a duty to protect her from harm. No statements of defence have been filed in the lawsuit.
A third youth accused in the beating is fighting the accusations against him and has trial dates set for May.