When it's Time to Get Help

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.

George-Epoch-Class-Action-Claim-Nova-Scotia

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
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.

I expect most Canadians would be shocked to learn that nearly 90 percent of all sexual assault incidents go unreported. A variety of factors contribute to this:

First, victims may feel intimidated by longstanding social and cultural attitudes exhibited towards sexual assault victims, and feel that it is safer or “easier” to say nothing about their experience.
Second, a lack of investigative accountability, victim support and sexual assault education allows many assaulters to “slip through the cracks” unintentionally meaning that even if a report is made, it does not guarantee that an arrest will result. Cases in which an assaulter is determined to have “not violated the law,” or that a crime was “falsely reported” are classified as unfounded.

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.

Scouts Canada and Their Failure to Report Sexual Abuse

by John McKiggan

Scouts Canada has come under fire in past years from critics and victims alike for the organization’s failure to report to the police instances and allegations of sexual abuse and assault by adult leaders against children. This apparent inaction is thought, by some, to be part of a systemic effort to protect child molesters within their ranks. Whether or not these claims are true has yet to be determined, but what has been determined by numerical data is that there has been some level of failure on the part of the Scouts Canada to report all instances of sexual abuse and assault to the authorities.

In October 2011, CBC first reported that Scouts Canada had signed confidentiality agreements out-of-court with more than a dozen child sex-abuse victims, and two months later, Scouts Canada issued a blanket apology to former scouts who were sexually assaulted by adult leaders as children.

In February 2012, Steve Kent, chief commissioner of Scouts Canada, acknowledged that Scouts Canada did not, in fact, report all allegations of sexual abuse and assault to police, despite decades of assurance that they had indeed done so, and handed off previously-confidential dossiers to auditing firm KPMG for investigation.
The KPMG Audit of Scouts Canada
A 2012 CBC article reports that Scouts Canada hired auditing firm KPMG to examine 486 cases from 1947 to 2011 in which adult scouting leaders were suspended or terminated on allegations of sexual abuse, misconduct or assault, following an investigation featured on CBC’s The Fifth Estate which examined how the organization has dealt with past instances of abuse within its ranks.

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.

Posted in: Uncategorized

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.

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