The Province of British Columbia was recently held vicariously liable for the sexual abuse of a convicted sex offender who sexually abused a minor hockey player that he was coaching.
Reasons for judgment were recently released by Justice Dley in D.K.B. v. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province of British Columbia.
Failure to Notify
The plaintiff D.K.B. was described as a talented 13 year old hockey player. He was sexually abused by his coach, Richard Hall, a convicted sex offender, on two occasions. The Province of British Columbia was held to be vicariously liable for the sexual abuse because Hall’s probation officer knew he was coaching hockey and the probation officer failed to notify the Minor Hockey Association that Hall was a convicted sex offender.
Professional Hockey Career
D.K.B. went on to play junior hockey and then professional hockey in the Western Hockey League.
When he was 17 years old D.K.B. was drafted in the eighth round of the NHL draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. During his 9 year professional hockey career D.K.B. earned about $200,000.00. He claimed that, if it were not for the sexual abuse, he would have gone on to a much more successful and lucrative professional career.
Justice Dley concluded that:
“…the abuse likely resulted in an impairment of the plaintiff’s ability to earn income.”
Dley found that D.K.B. suffered from a personality disorder which:
“…caused significant interpersonal problems disrupting the plaintiff’s ability to develop close relationships with his peers.”
No Loss of Scholarship
The court held that D.K.B.’s decision to forgo an NCAA scholarship was not materially connected to his sexual abuse and awarded no damages for that loss.
However, the court was:
“…satisfied that the plaintiff’s disorders, which affected his mental health, had a negative impact on the mental and emotional tools required to fully realize ones potential as a professional hockey player”.
The court concluded that the losses suffered by D.K.B. amounted to the loss of a first contract (a 3 year contract) with an NHL team. The court believed that there was a reasonable possibility that the disorders from the sexual abuse were the cause of NHL teams not offering a contract to the plaintiff.
Loss of Signing Bonus
The court concluded that D.K.B. suffered a loss of a potential $175,000.00 as a signing bonus for joining an NHL team.
Loss of Salary
The court also found that the plaintiff had lost 3 years of salary as an NHL player which totaled $180,000.00.
The D.K.B. case points out that not only can sexual abuse have a significant financial impact on persons who are otherwise viewed as successful by the rest of society, it points to the responsibility that members of the justice system have to ensure that sexual offenders are prevented from coming into contact with children and are not provided with opportunities to commit further offences.
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