When it's Time to Get Help

Archdiocese withdraws problematic legislation

by John McKiggan

On Tuesday I posted an article about my concerns surrounding proposed legislation introduced by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax .

The legislation would grant unusual powers to the Bishop to be able to create and control parish corporations. The stated intention was to transfer assets currently held by the Diocese to the newly created parish corporations.

My concern was that the Archdiocese could, if it wished use these parish corporations to divest itself of all of it’s assets and make itself “judgement proof”. In other words, if an abuse survivor obtained a judgement against the Diocese for compensation for childhood sexual abuse the Diocese might be able to avoid paying the judgement, claiming that it had no assets.

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Halifax Archdiocese seeks to pass legislation that could hurt sexual abuse survivors.

by John McKiggan

Today I appeared before the Private and Local Bills Committee at the Nova Scotia legislature. Why?

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax has introduced legislation through a private members bill that, if passed, would give the Archdiocese sweeping powers with respect to the way in which it manages it’s corporate affairs and could have drastic effects on the ability of survivors of sexual abuse by priests of the Archdiocese to receive compensation for their injuries.

The proposed legislation can be found here.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Estabrooks Class Action Certified, City of Saint John to Appeal

by John McKiggan

In a decision released February 8, 2017 SJC-533-2013 Hayes v. The City of Saint John Decision of Justice Grant Feb 9, 17 Justice Grant of the New Brunswick Court of Queens Bench certified the class action filed by Bobby Hayes on behalf of hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse by former Saint John police officer, Kenneth Estabrooks.

Kenneth Estabrooks’ history of abuse

Kenneth Estabrooks worked as a police officer for the City of Saint John for several decades. From 1950 to 1975 the plaintiff’s allege that Estabrooks used his authority as a police officer to abuse 100’s of children. In 1975, he was first confronted with allegations of sexual abuse of children. Estabrooks signed a confession admitting to the abuse.

Pope decides not to prosecute Bishops who covered up for priest sex abusers

by John McKiggan

For years now the Catholic Church has been facing criticism around the world for its inaction in failing to prevent sexual abuse of children by Catholic Priests. Furthermore, the Church has been criticized for failing to hold Bishops who failed to prevent the abuse accountable.

Pope FrancisTherefore, advocates for sexual abuse survivors were cautiously optimistic when Pope Francis announced plans to create a tribunal to prosecute Bishop’s under Canon law who covered up sexual abuse by Priests.

However, last week the Pope backed off on his proposal to criminally prosecute Bishops. Instead the Pope issued an apostolic letter to “clarify” the proper procedures available under Canon law to punish Bishops who have been found to have violated the Canon code.

3 Priests to stand trial for covering up sex abuse: Now what about the rest?

by John McKiggan

Three Franciscan priests have been ordered by a Judge in Pennsylvania to stand trial on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy for covering up sexual abuse by a fourth Priest.

The priests are charged with enabling Brother Stephen Baker to sexually abuse a number of boys at Bishop McCort High School. According to witness testimony during the priests’ preliminary inquiry, the accused, Father Giles Schinelli, Father Robert D’Aversa and Father Anthony Criscitelli knew that Baker was a pedophile and yet the accused priests continued to assign Baker to jobs where he would have contact with children.

Systemic cover up?

Jian Ghomeshi and the Burden of Proof in Sexual Abuse Claims

by John McKiggan

Ghomeshi sexual abuse claims come to court today

Jian Ghomeshi’s criminal trial starts today. He is charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. Ghomesi has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

I found it interesting that CBC news has reported Ghomeshi was facing charges relating to assaults on other women but the charges were withdrawn because the Crown determined there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

What is the Burden of Proof in Sexual Abuse Claims? “How do I prove my claim?”

by John McKiggan

School for the Deaf Students make sexual abuse claims

Recently former residents of the Nova Scotia School for the Deaf have come forward with allegations about childhood sexual abuse. I have been representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse for almost 25 years. In most cases the allegations that give rise to the claims are decades old. So the most common question that I get asked about by survivors is: “How do I prove that I was abused?”

What is “The Burden of Proof”?

Sexual Abuse Claims at Nova Scotia School for the Deaf

by John McKiggan

Former residents of the Interprovincial School for the Education of the Deaf, more commonly called the Nova Scotia School for the Deaf have come forward with allegations that they were physically and sexually abused while they were students of the school.

The school was originally in Halifax and children from all the Atlantic provinces were sent to the school for education. In 1960 the governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick assumed joint responsibility for operation of the school and moved it to Amherst Nova Scotia where is was renamed the Interprovincial School for the Education of the Deaf.

While these allegations have not yet been proven in court they follow a string of other institutional abuse claims from various Residential Schools across the country where children were forced to lived in isolation, separated from their parents. Many of these children subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse.

Nova Scotia’s New Limitation Act Helps Sexual Abuse Victims

by John McKiggan

Nova Scotia has proclaimed a new Limitation of Actions Act. That is the law that establishes the statute of limitation period (how long a plaintiff has to sue) for various claims.

There are a number of important changes in the new statute of limitations. Specifically it shortens the limitation period for many claims to two years.

Court still has discretion to extend limitation periods

Documentary Provides Healing to Victims of Ex-Priest and Scout Leader Ralph Rowe

by John McKiggan

It has been suggested that Ralph Rowe is one of Canada’s most prolific pedophiles. Rowe was an Anglican Priest and Scoutmaster. He was also a pilot and he flew to 20 remote First Nations communities in Northern Ontario and Manitoba. Rowe would lead church services, organize youth group outings and scout camping trips where he used his position of trust and authority to prey on children.

Controversial deal

In 1994 Ralph Rowe pleaded guilty to 39 sex abuse charges. He was sentenced to 6 years. But part of the plea bargain that resulted in Rowe’s guilty plea involved an agreement that Rowe would not be sentenced to further prison time for similar convictions.

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