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Ryerson student charged in hate crime

Emma Prestwich | The Eyeopener | News | February 14th, 2011

TORONTO (CUP) — A student at Ryerson University has been charged with committing an alleged hate crime against a former student.

Eoin McManus, a third-year radio and television student and his friend Benjamin McCall have been charged with two counts of assault after allegedly assaulting Ryan Lester and his brother Ben at a restaurant in Toronto's gay village on January 22.

Ryan said homophobic slurs were hurled at them when they entered the restaurant and he and his brother were beaten when they tried to confront them.

McManus and McCall were arrested shortly after leaving the restaurant.

Ryan was taken away by ambulance. A CAT scan of his brain was clear, but he said he still has broken bones and soft tissue injuries in his face.

"I find the incident shocking, in an area so close to Toronto's gay village," he said.

According to Toronto Police Const. Tonyo Vella, the incident has been classified as a hate crime.

McManus and McCall are also facing one charge of mischief, said Vella.

He said the two were arrested by police, taken to court and were released on certain conditions.

The two are set to appear in court on February 16 at 2 p.m.

Ryan, fundraising director at Pride Toronto, was taking public administration and governance courses at Ryerson up until this semester, but said he dropped out when work at the advocacy organization became too stressful.

He said he couldn't believe that McManus was a Ryerson student, but said that he thinks Ryerson should institute some type of discipline for these kinds of crimes.

"Students in post-secondary education should be accountable to the school," he said.

Ryerson's code of non-academic misconduct states that students should follow all levels of law and that the university can impose penalties on students who don't. The penalties range from written reprimands to restrictions on entering the campus.

It is unclear whether McManus will face non-academic misconduct charges.

Casey Giorgievski, volunteer outreach co-ordinator with Ryerson pride group, said she found it upsetting that the incident involved a Ryerson student and was only a few steps away from campus.

She cited the alleged murder of Ryerson student Christopher Skinner in October 2009 as one case of suspected discrimination and said she thinks there have been several small incidents of anti-gay harassment happening.

"This looks bad on us as a university," she said. "There are hateful people everywhere."

Ryan said that this was his first experience of assault, but that he thinks it's a common narrative. Two weeks prior a 49-year-old man was soaked with slushies by a group of high school students in the area.

"I don't think I'm alone in things that happen daily," he said.
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