When it's Time to Get Help

Preventing Sexual Abuse of Seniors in Nursing Homes

by John McKiggan

According to the 2016 census, Canada’s senior population (age 65+) outnumbered children for the first time since Confederation. While much public attention has been paid to the scourge of childhood abuse, it’s important to remember that Canada’s seniors are at as high of a risk of being sexually abused as the rest of the population.

The vulnerability of some seniors is aggravated by the fact that some seniors live away from their loved ones in specialized care facilities, where they are more prone to isolation and depression. With more than 5 percent of the senior population residing in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, the chances of sexual abuse going unnoticed for a period of time is unfortunately much higher than it has been I the past.

Our country’s seniors are entitled to respect and protection from something as heinous as sexual abuse. Learning to recognize the signs of senior sexual abuse, as well as how to stop it in its tracks, is important to ensuring that our country’s seniors continue to live healthy and fulfilling lives even after retirement.
Signs of Senior Sexual Abuse
Unlike children, who may not have the vocabulary or maturity to describe what is happening (or has happened) to them, seniors are often too aware that they are being taken advantage of. The shame and guilt of being a survivor of sexual abuse is something they might have been aware of for decades—meaning that once it happens to them, they will understandably feel trapped in their experience and not want to speak out against their abusers.

Cardinal Pell, Vatican Treasurer, Convicted of Sexual Assault in Australia

by John McKiggan

In December it was reported that Australian Cardinal George Pell has been convicted of five criminal charges of sexual assault involving two boys at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne Australia in the 1990’s.

There is very little information about the trial available publically because the Australian court took the unusual step of issuing a “super injunction” which prohibited all media in Australia from reporting on the trial.

This is actually Pell’s second trial on the same charges. The first one ended in a hung jury.

Preventing Childhood Sexual Abuse in Schools

by John McKiggan

While the majority of adults working in schools across Canada are unequivocally dedicated to making schools a safe, positive environment for children, there are those who seek to use their position of power for more nefarious purposes. Tragically some teachers have used the positions of trust and authority to abuse the children in their care. The survivors of childhood teacher sexual abuse, often carrying the burden and shame of these encounters for the rest of their lives.

In 2014, Statistics Canada conducted a general social survey of Canadians which included a sample size of approximately 33,000 individuals over the age of 15. Specific questions asked respondents to self-report abuse taking place in their childhood (before they turned 15). The results revealed that 8 percent of the respondents self-reported childhood sexual abuse — a figure that corresponds to approximately 2.4 million Canadians having been sexually abused as children.

Survivors: An Underrepresented Minority

Posted in: Uncategorized

Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony and Brett Kavanaugh: Echoing The Stories of Sexual Assault Survivors Everywhere

by John McKiggan

The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States has dominated headlines in the last week due to allegations of sexual assault brought forward by Christine Blasey Ford. Even as Kavanaugh vehemently denies the allegations made against him, and President Trump openly mocks her allegations, what makes her heroic testimony so important for survivors of sexual assault in Canada and beyond?

Ford’s willingness to come forward and break her silence as a survivor teaches us an inspiring lesson about tenacity in the face of public adversity, as well as the hurdles that many survivors must overcome to share their stories. In an era of unprecedented visibility for survivors, it is important now—more than ever—to listen to survivors whenever they are ready to share their stories.
Why Did Dr. Ford Wait So Long to Come Forward?
Many of the questions/concerns voiced about Dr. Ford’s allegations center around why it took so long for her to disclose an incident that happened decades ago during her and Kavanaugh’s teenage years.

In addition to public skepticism, Ford was openly questioned by Republican Senators regarding the credibility of her disclosure during and after her September 27th testimony.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Study Finds More Than 1000 Children Abused by Catholic Priests in Pennsylvania

by John McKiggan

A recent report published by the New York Times found that more than 300 Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania had sexually abused over 1,000 children over a period of 70 years. The report covers six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses, the Grand Jury Report is the broadest investigation ever carried out by a government agency of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Evidence of Cover-up Within the Church

Even more unsettling than the horrifying number of victims is the fact that bishops and other church leaders—well aware that sexual abuse was happening within their ranks—covered up the abuse by persuading victims against reporting their abusers, and convincing law enforcement officials not to investigate any claims made.

Posted in: Uncategorized

The #MeToo Effect: Childhood Sexual Abuse Claims Against the Catholic Church

by John McKiggan

The Catholic Church, for many, is a place of sanctuary, family and faith; for others, however, it is a painful reminder of systemic sexual abuse that has affected the lives of children for decades. While the Church actively condemns sexual abuse in every form in its public schools, survivors of child abuse are still driven to silence over what happened to them—either recently, or decades in the past.


Courtesy CBC

The #MeToo movement, in recent years, has empowered those who have previously been silenced to speak up—and speak out—against their abusers, and in some cases, the organizations responsible for shielding these abusers from legal repercussions.

Class action against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth

by John McKiggan

McKiggan Hebert Lawyers in Halifax and Koskie Minsky LLP in Toronto have filed a class action against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth on behalf of persons who allege they were sexually abused by priests from the Archdiocese from 1960 to date.

August 2, 2018 – Halifax, NS B3J 1H6

The class action claims that the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax-Yarmouth, more commonly known as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth, had a decades long policy of secrecy of any allegations of sexual abuse against a priest.

Sexual Abuse in Canada’s Athletics: A Brief Overview

by John McKiggan

While sports are commonly thought to “be a safe, healthy environment which contributes to the positive development of young people, it is also an area where violence can manifest itself in various ways, including sexual assault.” Between 2 and 8 percent of all Canadian athletes are victims in sexual abuse at some point in their careers, a number which may come as a surprise to sports fans and sexual abuse prevention advocates alike.

Concerns for the safety and wellbeing of child and young adult victims have seen a sharp rise in recent years as incidents of sexual abuse in any environment—including athletics—are brought to the public’s attention thanks to the #MeToo movement and similar visibility efforts.

In as many as 98 percent of these incidents, the perpetrators of sexual abuse were coaches, teachers or instructors of the victims, violating the sense of trust and kinship that is highly valued in the context of an athletic team.
Is Sexual Abuse in Elite Sports a Hidden Epidemic?

Courtesy of Toronto Star

The Unfounded Files: #MeToo and Its Impact on the RCMP

by John McKiggan

As the #MeToo movement continues to gain traction across Canada, supporters have continuously called for not only an end to sexual assault victim stigmatization, but also for an improvement in the way that sexual assault incident reports are handled by authorities. In Canada, sexual assault allegations are investigated by local police departments or the RCMP. RCMP statistics indicate an estimated 635,000 incidents of sexual assault occurred in Canada during 2014.
Tip of The Iceberg

image courtesy of patch.com

Unfortunately, as someone who has been representing survivors of sexual abuse for more than 25 years, I can state without a shadow of a doubt that these reports are just the tip of the iceberg.

KPMG’s Investigation of Scouts Canada

by John McKiggan

Recently, we covered CBC’s 2012 report on Scouts Canada that took place following an episode of The Fifth Estate. The investigation on The Fifth Estate sought to find answers to allegations that Scouts Canada had not been entirely honest about reporting each instance of sexual abuse, assault or misconduct occurring within their ranks to the authorities, as they had previously maintained for decades.

As a result, Scouts Canada then pledged to hand over previously-confidential reporting dossiers to auditing firm KPMG, who then launched an independent investigation to determine if (and when) Scouts Canada failed to report instances of sexual abuse that they were made aware of.

What follows is a brief summary of the result of KPMG’s investigation, which can viewed in full here.
Summary of KPMG Report
The 55-page report outlines KPMG’s investigative timeline, and goes into detail regarding the decision to launch the investigation, how the 486 cases were obtained from Scouts Canada (whether they were part of the initial hand-over or acquired later), and the processes through which these cases were analyzed to determine the level of action taken by Scouts Canada to address allegations of sexual abuse and assault from 1947 to 2011.

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