Articles Posted in Uncategorized

Published on:

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that CBC news has reported Ghomeshi was facing charges relating to assaults on other women but the charges were withdrawn because the Crown determined there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

Published on:

The Chronicle Herald has reported that Roy Franklyn Newcomb has been arrested and charged with possessing and accessing child pornography.

The charges came about after a student at NSCAD (where Newcomb has worked for thirty years) found a USB thumb drive containing pictures and videos apparently depicting child pornography. Police were called in and computer forensics officers uncovered twenty images and nine videos depicting child pornography.

At the time of his arrest Newcomb was a foster parent and apparently has been for many years.

Published on:

Proposed Settlement in Class Action

The Chronicle Herald reported last week that a class action launched by former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children has been settled for $5,000,000.

According to the media reports, there are about 140 former residents participating in the class action. The residents’ claim against the Province of Nova Scotia has not been settled, and it is still making its way through the Courts.

I know that resolving this claim is likely to provide a great deal of relief, and closure, to the class members. One of the class members, Troy Smith was quoted as saying the group’s financial demands were higher but they decided to settle for less because they didn’t want to force the sale of the Home’s property:

“We could have easily gone after the land and the value of the land, and we took the high road, because we do know that the home itself has historical significance to some people in the community,” said Smith.

I give credit to Mr. Smith and the other class members for the approach they took in trying to resolve the claim.

No apology

One issue regarding the settlement with the Colored Home that caught my attention was the fact that it does not include an apology. Counsel for the class members indicated that when they looked at the wording of the proposed apology, they felt it was insufficiently sincere so they decided to proceed with the settlement in the absence of the formal apology.

One of the class members said “a half-hearted apology was worse than none at all”.

I have to say, I agree.

Apologies have value

There is no doubt that apologies given as part of litigation, or to resolve litigation, can have significant value to claimants.

In a presentation I gave to the Canadian Institute’s National Conference on Institutional Abuse titled Safe to Say You’re Sorry: The Psychology of Apology, I reviewed research that proves apologies can have the effect of reducing litigation and increasing satisfaction on the part of plaintiffs with respect to the results of the litigation.

Class counsel for the former residents of the Home for Colored Children said that they decided to proceed without an apology because they did not think the proposed terms of the apology were sincere. There is no doubt that the sincerity of an apology (or lack thereof) is an important fact whether an apology will actually be of value to resulting litigation.

National Residential School Settlement

I had the honour of representing Nora Bernard and the former residents of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. I also participated in the negotiations that led to the landmark National Indian Residential Schools class action settlement. That process remains the largest abuse compensation settlement anywhere in the world.

Apology by National Leaders

A critical part of the class action settlement was the formal apology that was given to residential survivors on behalf of the Canadian government and all of the churches involved. I vividly remember watching the televised event where the Prime Minister of Canada and all of the leaders of the opposition parties, and the heads of all of the churches that signed the agreement offered their formal apologies to the residential school survivors.

The apologies were, in my view, sincere and heartfelt, and watching the faces of the residential school survivors in the room with me, I could tell that, for many of them, this was the most important part of the claims resolution process.

Individual Apologies to Survivors

Furthermore, any survivor that proceeds through an individual compensation hearing has the opportunity to receive a formal apology from a representative of Canada, as well as receiving a written apology signed by the Prime Minister of Canada. I know many of my clients have framed their copy of the apology.

Conclusion, but not an end…

I am pleased that any of the former residents of the Home for Colored Children who suffered abuse will, finally, have an opportunity to receive some measure of compensation. I commend the class members and their dedicated legal counsel.

However, as I have told all of my historical abuse clients for the past 23 years, no amount of money is ever going to make them forget or erase what happened. Financial compensation is simply a measure of recognition that the abuse was wrong.

For most of my clients, a legitimate and heartfelt apology is more important than the number of zeros on any compensation cheque.
Continue reading →

Published on:

A retired Roman Catholic priest faces charges of sexually assaulting a seven year old boy between the years of 1971 and 1973. Father Jacques Faucher of Quebec is alleged to have assaulted the boy in Ottawa.

Due in court on March 12th, Faucher is charged with gross indecency and indecent assault on a male.

The Archbishop of Ottawa issued an official statement indicating that Faucher was suspended from the ministry, and banned from representing himself as a Catholic priest:

Published on:

eagle-feather-thumbI have had the honour and privilege of representing Nora Bernard and the survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School for 17 years.

Nora Bernard played a key role in the landmark Indian Residential School class action. The class action was the largest historical redress settlement in the world.

As a result of the class action settlement, Residential School survivors who were subjected to sexual abuse, severe physical abuse and severe psychological abuse are entitled to apply for compensation under the Independant Assessment Process (‘IAP”)

Published on:

iceberg2-thumbAs is usually the case with charges of childhood sexual abuse, further investigation by police has lead to more charges against catholic priest George Ansel Smith.

Smith was already facing 62 charges involving various allegations of sexual abuse against children from various parishes in Western Newfoundland.

But police confirmed today that they have laid a further 7 charges including gross indecency, indecent assault and unlawful assault with intent to commit an indictable offence. Some of the charges involve incidents alleged to have taken place in Nova Scotia.

Published on:

I am honoured (and surprised) to say that I have been nominated by Beyond Borders for their 2011 award for exemplary journalism covering issues related to the sexual exploitation of children.

Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada is a national non-profit organization that advances the rights of children to be free from sexual exploitation.

I have been nominated in the print category for my article that was published in The Lawyers Weekly:

Published on:

While this blog is normally dedicated to cases and news involving sexual abuse, I thought a recent decision of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal merited comment.

Landmark Decision

In a ground breaking decision, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has upheld the acquittal of school teacher Nicole Ryan who had been charged with trying to arrange for the murder of her abusive husband. Ryan was charged after hiring an undercover police officer to kill her estranged husband.