Toronto Star

November 18, 1999

Four teens charged with torturing girl, 14

In two hours, hit 60 times, burned with cigarettes

By Michelle Shephard
Toronto Star Crime Reporter

When the police found her, the 14-year-old was bruised and bleeding with cigarette burns down her back, after enduring two hours of torture at the hands of four older teenage girls.

A brick, metal bars and a broom handle were among the weapons the attackers used in addition to the victim's own keys which were taken from her, then scraped up and down her legs until they bled, police say.

Four suspects - aged 16, 17, 18 and 19 - were arrested after the incident Tuesday and were in custody last night.

The attack came just two days after Dmitri Baranovski, a 15-year-old North York student, was beaten to death in a park by a group which circled him as they punched and kicked him.

Baranovski's fatal beating Sunday was exactly two years after another Canadian teenager died in the same manner and captured the country's attention.

Reena Virk of suburban Victoria, B. C., was beaten and drowned on Nov. 14, 1997. She was 14. Eight teens, seven of them girls between 14 and 16, were charged. Six girls have since been convicted and sentenced, as has one male youth, who was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to five years. The seventh girl has yet to face trial on a charge of second-degree murder.

Police said the beating this week of the 14-year-old girl, who cannot be identified, was disturbingly similar to the Virk case and surmised the assault could have been more serious had police not arrived.

``This wasn't a case of a quick beating and then they left her alone,'' said Detective Sergeant Christopher Downer. ``This was two hours of torture.''

Downer also said one of the suspects told police: ``That bitch had it coming to her . . . you guys came at the wrong time.''

In a room at Toronto's downtown 51 Division on Regent St., the 14-year-old said in an interview last night that her only thoughts were of fleeing from the apartment washroom where she was contained.

``The thing that was running through my mind was I will survive. I will. The other thing was concerning the pain that I kept saying to myself just take it. Just take it,'' she said, twirling a ginger ale can in her hands.

Articulate and poised, she spoke calmly about the attack while showing the burns on her back and scratches up her legs. Only occasionally would she let an emotional comment slip before regaining herself.

``All this needs to stop. If it was my world - I know that sounds childish - but seriously, if it was my world, nothing like this would go on,'' she said.

Constables Jim Hogan and Shawn Burry were patrolling the Dundas St. and Sherbourne Ave. area when they spotted the 14-year-old and four teenagers around 6:30 Tuesday night. Police say they witnessed one of the suspects pretending to throw a ball to another of the teenagers, who was simulating swinging a bat. Each time the wooden bat - a broom handle - was reached back, the suspect would strike the victim on the head, police say.

When Hogan and Burry approached, the four teens fled to a nearby apartment. Police quickly arrested them. The 14-year-old girl was treated for her injuries at the Hospital for Sick Children and later released.

She told police that the incident began with a phone call from someone she knew, inviting her to an apartment on Dundas St. E. When she arrived she found three other teenage girls in the apartment and realized she had been set up.

As she tried to leave they grabbed her by the hair and pulled her downstairs to a washroom near the building's laundry room on the ground floor, Downer said.

There they stripped her of her clothing, stole a necklace, $20 from her wallet and her health card, police said.

Downer said the suspects demanded that the 14-year-old admit she was dating one of the teenagers' brothers. They allegedly said that if she didn't admit it, they would ``torture'' her.

The 14-year-old told police that she wasn't involved with the brother and wouldn't tell her attackers differently, believing even if she lied they'd continue the abuse.

During the attack the girls punched, kicked and hit her with both metal bars and wooden sticks, causing bumps and bruises to form, but not breaking the skin. Police allege she was struck as many as 60 times.

Eventually she was dragged outside the building - where police spotted the attack - then she was hit in the head with a brick and banged against the wall.

``When they hoofed me, I stood up straight. There were a couple times when I fell down when they kicked me in my belly, but I tried to keep myself up,'' the girl said yesterday.

Her feelings remain mixed.

``It's actually made me feel stronger than I was before. Knowing that I faced that and didn't have to stay in the hospital makes me feel good,'' she said. ``But it also makes me feel bad at how people can actually do such a thing to others.''

Although she has never suffered abuse like this from other teenagers before, the 14-year-old says most students she knows feel rage. They just wouldn't go this far, she said.

``I'm the type of person who has respect for everybody who has respect for me. You give me respect, I'm going to give you a lot of respect back. If you disrespect me, I'm not going to talk to you. I'm not going to hit you, I'm not going to punch you, I'm just not going to talk to you,'' she said.

Charged with forcible confinement, robbery, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon are Raven Joyce, 19, Leena Grenier, 18, and two girls aged 16 and 17, who cannot be identified.

Joyce was denied bail at College Park court yesterday while Grenier's case was put over until this morning.

The two charged under the Young Offenders Act are to appear in court tomorrow.

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