Canada

Ex-University of Waterloo student pleads guilty to 2023 stabbings in gender-studies class

A former University of Waterloo, Ont., student has pleaded guilty to four charges in connection with the stabbing of an instructor and two students during a gender-studies class last June.  

Geovanny Villalba-Aleman appeared in a Kitchener court on Monday morning.

He pleaded guilty to: 

  • Two charges of aggravated assault.
  • One charge of assault causing bodily harm.
  • One charge of assault with a weapon.

The two students and instructor were stabbed in Hagey Hall on June 2023. Police called it “a hate-motivated incident related to gender expression and gender identity.”

Members of the Waterloo Regional Police Service investigated the stabbing in June 2023 inside Hagey Hall at the Ontario school. (Nick Iwanyshyn/The Canadian Press)

The former student had been charged with attempted murder and mischief and also faced terrorism charges.

The 24-year-old was in court on Monday, wearing a blue striped, button-down shirt and dark pants with glasses.

He asked the judge to explain each of the four charges multiple times before pleading guilty. His lawyer noted that the man’s first language is Spanish and it would have been ideal to have a translator present, but one wasn’t requested by the defence in time for Monday’s plea date.

Dozens of students in class at the time

About 40 students were inside the classroom at the time of the stabbings.

A 38-year-old female associate professor from Kitchener and two students — a 20-year-old female and a 19-year-old male, both from Waterloo — were taken to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Police said a man who was not a member of the class entered around 3:30 p.m. ET on June 28 and spoke with the associate professor before attacking her with two knives.

Police said while students were trying to escape, two students were stabbed and there was an attempt to stab a third student.

Officials from the University of Waterloo said the in-house emergency alert system didn’t work as expected after the stabbings, adding the WatSAFE app had sent an alert to students 90 minutes after the incident.

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