He dreamed of playing professional hockey. Instead, this teen was arrested at gunpoint after years of relentless bullying at the sports academy, the suit alleges.

Lucas DeCaluwe was sitting alone in his father’s parked truck when he noticed police officers surrounding the vehicle.

It was October 2019, and the then-14-year-old hockey player, who was battling what he calls incessant bullying from his high school teammates, was on his way to an appointment with a sports psychologist.

As he waited for his father to return from a brief stop at the bank, the officers approached, pointed their guns and ordered him to get out of the truck with his hands up.

“I was scared. I didn’t know what was happening,” says the now 17-year-old.

His father, Brian, returning to the truck, watched in horror as his son was arrested.

“I heard Lucas say, ‘Daddy, daddy help me.’ Those are the words I will always remember.”

DeCaluwe and his father say they had no idea what the teen had done to get arrested at gunpoint.

They later learned that a social media post the day before, made by someone else using DeCaluwe’s name, suggested that he planned to kill classmates with firearms at Victus Academy, a private school in Kitchener that specializes in in training young hockey players, according to the accusations. in a lawsuit brought by the DeCaluwes.

That social media post, the DeCaluwes allege, was the culmination of a years-long campaign of harassment by teammates, enabled by hockey academy staff steeped in a toxic culture.

His $5.5 million lawsuit alleges that the behavior of the school and three student hockey players had a “profound psychological impact” on his well-being and his goal of playing professional hockey.

The defendants have not yet filed defense statements.

In a statement, Victus Academy President Matthew Schmidt said the school will “vigorously defend” the lawsuit.

“We are an academic and athletic school that reinforces respectful behavior every day in everything we do,” he said.

The Star chooses not to name the accused students, as they were young at the time of their alleged bullying.

A lawyer for one of the students said he will fight the lawsuit in court. The family of one student declined to comment and the third could not be reached.

The lawsuit is not against the student the DeCaluwes eventually learned was the author of the social media post. DeCaluwe’s mother, Gail, says the student who had witnessed the alleged bullying was “trying to scare them into leaving” her son alone.

She says it was a misguided attempt to do what she alleges the school had failed to do: stop the bullying.

With tuition just under $20,000, Victus offers hockey and academic programs for boys and girls in grades 5 through 12. The school’s website includes testimonials from former players and parents, including graduates who now play in the Ontario Hockey League.

“The Victus Academy is not for everyone,” the website says. “Successful applicants to Victus Academy will be those individuals who not only possess high-level academic skills and hockey skills, but must also be prepared for the rigors and demands of this highly competitive school.”

DeCaluwe’s complaint alleges that he became a “frequent target of bullying” from the time he began attending Kitchener School at age 11. The three defendants were part of a “pervasive and systemic” culture at Victus that “abused and others did too,” the claim says.

Lucas DeCaluwe, right, with his parents Brian and Gail.  The DeCaluwes are suing the private hockey academy Lucas attended and three former teammates for alleged bullying and harassment.

In an interview, his mother Gail recalls the pain she caused her young son and her family.

“They were taunting him on the ice, throwing his gear,” he said. “It just got worse and worse and worse. They yelled at him in the face, they segregated him, they threatened to beat him, he had no one to have lunch with. It was devastating for him.”

Gail says she and her husband didn’t know the full extent of the bullying at the time because their son didn’t share the details. But it became clear in the fall of 2019.

DeCaluwe’s teammates were making “false allegations, accusations, and rumors, including that he was mentally ill, that he was a possible shooter at school, and that he had researched weapons with the intent to purchase one and fatally harm students on property.” from school,” the lawsuit alleges.

“There was a narrative that Lucas was blacklisted and that he was going to go after people,” Gail said. “It was something they made up and joked about.”

The civil lawsuit alleges that on Oct. 1, 2019, a Victus student circulated a false social media post in DeCaluwe’s name that issued a warning: “Don’t come to school tomorrow, I’m done with the stuff that’s going on.” .

“One of the boys admitted to creating the fake Snapchat post in his police interview,” says Gail, who reviewed Crown’s report detailing two criminal charges against her son for allegedly making death threats.

The criminal complaint alleges that DeCaluwe threatened two of the children named in the civil lawsuit days before the social media post was made.

Both charges, which Lucas strongly denied, were dropped in August 2020.

Gail says that reading the police statements given by the students left her in tears.

“It was heartbreaking to see how many children had seen the bullying and the school knew what was going on. It was much more extensive than I had ever thought.”

Word of the false post spread among the student body and staff at the school and “led to believe that DeCaluwe was planning to murder the students at the school by participating in a drive-by shooting,” the claim says.

In response, the director of the Victus Academy contacted the Waterloo Regional Police Service to report Lucas, the claim alleges.

The next day, DeCaluwe was arrested “by force and violence” with guns drawn, he says.

When Brian came out of the bank and saw the commotion, he remembers running to his son.

“One of the officers pushed me to the side and they asked me who was in the truck and if I had any weapons,” the father recalls.

The young DeCaluwe was placed in a police car and handcuffed.

“I was watching my 14-year-old son in a police car and they had given me no information about what he had done,” says Brian. “As a father, I am concerned that I have not protected my son enough. I have been struggling with this. There are things I’m doubting. I wonder if I failed him.

At the police station, the teen was told to remove his shoelaces before being placed in a holding cell.

More than four hours later, he was released on a promise to appear in court and on the condition that he could not go to the Victus Academy.

“Victus completely abandoned me,” says the teenager.

When the family got home that night, officers were inside searching computers for firearm purchases and searching the house for weapons, the family says. They were not allowed to return to the house until 1 am, they say.

“It was devastating,” says Gail. “Home is a safe place for all of us. It was very invasive. You feel like your whole life is on display for no reason.”

While the criminal charges against DeCaluwe were dropped after an investigation, the damage to the teen’s reputation at the school was irrevocable, the claim alleges. The mental anguish left him in a state of “social isolation, trauma and shame.”

The defenseman sat out most of the 2019-20 hockey season, which was the year of DeCaluwe’s Ontario Hockey League draft. His dreams of a professional hockey career were “significantly and detrimentally impacted,” the claim alleges.

The family claims damages against Victus for failing to protect DeCaluwe from “long-term intimidation, coercion, harassment, abuse and stalking.”

School staff were repeatedly informed of the harassment, the claim alleges.

“The failure of Victus Academy to take corrective action created and condoned a toxic and unsafe environment and culture in which harassment and intimidation were prevalent…Before and after Lucas’s arrest, Victus Academy did not implement any policies or procedure for addressing bullying online and in person.

DeCaluwe has been in counseling since the incident. He now plays Junior A level hockey with the Caledon Admirals.

“He is still working on the mental issues. There is hesitation. He doesn’t have a lot of confidence (and) that’s keeping him from going to the next level,” she says.

“After what Lucas has been through, if we can do something good to change the culture and make sure other kids don’t have to go through this, that’s the healing part of it.”

1 thought on “He dreamed of playing professional hockey. Instead, this teen was arrested at gunpoint after years of relentless bullying at the sports academy, the suit alleges.”

  1. Sadly I am not surprised. As an ex-employee, kids were always talking about stuff going on in the changerooms and on the ice. I reported things to admin and principal and nothing was ever done about it – at least not to my knowledge. I had kids speak to me in tears about how other kids were talking to them and how another boy was afraid to speak-up for fear of what the other kids would say or do if he did. Taunting, showing fingers in the face, name calling on the ice, name calling in the classrooms. I have never been involved with such an institution where the kids have gone so wild and are so out of control. The academics of the school are sadly do not even compare to the public school system. I feel for this young man and hope justice is served.


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