Category: Class Actions

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.

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.

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.

Home for Colored Children Compensation Program Adopts Indian Residential School Model

by John McKiggan

Class action settlement announced

A 16 year fight for compensation ended yesterday when the Province of Nova Scotia and former residents of the Home for Colored Children announced the details of a class action filed by former residents.

About 140 former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children filed a class action seeking compensation for what they describe as years of neglect and emotional, physical and sexual abuse suffered by children in the school.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Updating Guidelines on Priest Sexual Abuse

by John McKiggan

Canadian Catholic Bishops are attending their annual Conference this week. The Conference (the CCCB) runs from Sept. 24-28th and is expected to include approximately 90 Bishops from across Canada.

New Rules?

One of the important items on their agenda is the updating of their guidelines for the prevention of clerical sexual abuse. On their approach to the new guidelines the CCCB president, Archbishop Richard Smith told The Catholic Register:

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