Samuel Opoku, the man who was arrested and charged for dumping buckets of human waste on people at Toronto university campuses, was called before the Ontario Court of Justice earlier today to discuss bail.
The hearing, which was scheduled for 10:00 am, didn’t begin until 2:22 pm when the accused finally entered the courtroom. The court session ended after less than 20 minutes when defence attorney Jordan Weisz requested that the hearing be adjourned until December 3. Until then, Opoku will remain in custody.
Throughout most of the hearing, Opoku was hunched over and looking at the ground. His head was barely visible over his shoulders to those gathered in the courtroom’s audience behind him.
In accordance with the section 517 publication ban imposed on today’s proceedings, The Varsity cannot release information or details discussed in court.
Opoku was arrested by Toronto Police on Tuesday, November 26. He has been charged with five counts of assault with a weapon and five counts of mischief interfering with property.
It is alleged that he threw “liquified fecal matter” on two people at the John P. Robarts Research Library on Friday, November 22. Two days later, police believe he did the same at the Scott Library at York University. The final alleged attack occurred on Monday, November 25 when a bucket with the same contents was dumped on a woman in the area around McCaul Street and College Street.
Dozens of people, many of whom were U of T students, arrived at 10:00 am to witness the hearing. Students and journalists alike jockeyed for seats in the packed courtroom, with many not being allowed to enter due to a lack of space. The hearing was moved to a larger room to accommodate the large number of people gathered.
Ruth Masuka, a second-year student double majoring in peace, conflict and justice, and ethics, society and law at U of T was one such student who arrived at 10:00 am and waited the full four hours for the hearing to begin.
In an interview with The Varsity, she recalled her experience waiting in the crowd that morning.
“It attracted so many different types of people. Everyone had this morbid curiosity.”
She was joined by recent U of T computer science graduate, Felipe Santos. They both attended today’s proceedings looking for answers and the motivation behind these attacks.
Santos commented that seeing Opoku in person really humanized him. “He was a lot more defeated than I expected. In the pictures he seemed to be pretty confident and proud.”
Masuka and Santos both described the potential psychological implications these attacks had on campuses throughout the GTA.
Masuka noted that “some of [her] friends didn’t come to school because they didn’t want to have to be nervous all the time.”
Santos said that people were “afraid and always looking over [their] shoulder.”
Commenting on the paranoia that has existed on campus during the past week, Masuka added that only “one guy made how many tens of thousands of people terrified.”
In a joint interview following the hearing, Weisz told journalists that his client is “shocked” by the situation and the allegations.
“Understandably, to say the least, it’s not a pleasant situation to be sitting in a courtroom with the public scrutiny that he’s currently having to endure. It’s obviously overwhelming, as it would be for anybody.”
When asked if his client understood the circumstances of his situation, Weisz said that “there [are] no fitness concerns at all. He obviously understands the nature of the proceedings, absolutely.”
On the topic of whether mental health issues may have been involved in the attacks, Weisz acknowledged that “the nature of the allegations suggest that.”
While he could not comment on his client specifically, he said that generally for “those with mental disorders, the funding to treat [them] in a compassionate, appropriate, and caring way is often sorely lacking. They often fall through the cracks.”
“Because they’re not getting the treatment they require — through no fault of their own — [they] engage in, potentially, acts of criminality.”