Abuse at Vancouver College and St. Thomas More Collegiate
Mount Cashel Boys’ Home, a Newfoundland orphanage run by a Roman Catholic lay order, was demolished in 1992. After decades of sexual and physical abuse perpetrated by members of the Christian Brothers of Ireland in Canada against boys who resided in the orphanage, the site was torn down, and the Christian Brothers were forced to pay $16 million in compensation.
But years after investigations into the horrific allegations first began, on the country’s opposite coast, the impact of the organization’s institutional negligence is still being felt by victims of sexual abuse.
According to recent allegations, after being accused of sexually abusing boys at Mount Cashel in the 1970s, six Christian Brothers were sent from Newfoundland to two Vancouver-area schools where they continued to prey upon male students. These allegations have not yet been proven in court.
Despite a robust police investigation into the allegations of sexual abuse at Mount Cashel in the 1970s, thanks to a concerted effort from church officials, public servants, the police, and politicians, instead of facing charges for their crimes, several Christian Brothers were sent to teach in British Columbia schools. Indeed, after two of these perpetrators confessed to sexually abusing boys at Mount Cashel, the local chief of police instructed the investigating officer to destroy his report.
Grown men who took advantage of their positions of authority to subject young children to unimaginably violent abuse—documented in harrowing detail when the investigation was reopened in the late 1980s—were protected by their religious order instead of facing immediate consequences. According to new allegations, at least one of these convicted criminals continued to sexually abuse students after being relocated to Vancouver.
This member of the Roman Catholic lay order was transferred to St. Thomas Moore Collegiate in Burnaby in 1976 where he was employed until 1981. According to the new charges, after receiving official complaints that this teacher was assaulting students, rather than expelling him from the order of Christian Brothers or reporting the allegations to the police, this teacher was simply reassigned again, this time to Vancouver College.
As a result of the re-opened investigation into institutional abuse at Mount Cashel and subsequent criminal proceedings, Brother Edward English was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1991. In the early 2000s, he was named in a lawsuit by a plaintiff who claimed he was raped and sexually abused by English during his tenure at St. Thomas More Collegiate. Now, the accusations of sexual abuse continue to surface, as more and more victims come forward to speak about how their lives have been impacted by the crimes they were subjected to at St. Thomas More and Vancouver College.
In British Columbia, there is no statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims. Survivors of trauma often require a great deal of time to process their experience and to evaluate the impact it has had on their overall quality of life, especially if they were subjected to abuse as minors. It is important for survivors of sexual abuse to make their own decisions about whether they wish to pursue justice and accountability, no matter how long it takes.
If you attended St. Thomas More Collegiate or Vancouver College in the 1970s-1980s and were the victim of sexual abuse, Preszler Injury Lawyers may be able to provide you with invaluable legal assistance so you can recover the compensation you deserve. To learn more, contact Preszler Injury Lawyers today and receive a free initial consultation.
What is Institutional Sexual Abuse?
Organizations have a responsibility to respond appropriately to allegations of sexual abuse and assault within their ranks. Schools, religious institutions, orphanages, foster homes, and other organizations intended to care for children or vulnerable community members must take this responsibility seriously.
In these types of situations, it might be proven that an organization’s negligence was contributorily responsible for the abuse suffered by victims of childhood sexual assault. As such, by pursuing a civil claim against the institution that allowed the abuse to take place, victims may be able to recover compensation for damages they have incurred as a result.
In addition to the emotional and psychological repercussions of being sexually abused, survivors often face significant financial consequences. These might be related to a reduced earning capacity for students who were unable to complete their education because of the psychological toll of their abuse, as well as costs of psychological treatment, prescription medications, and other monetary losses they have experienced.
By pursuing a civil claim against your abuser and the organization that allowed your abuse to occur, you may be able to recover the maximum amount of damages to which you are rightfully owed. To learn more, schedule your free initial consultation with Preszler Injury Lawyers by calling 1-800-JUSTICE.
A Class Action Lawsuit Might Not Be the Best Course of Action
When more than one victim of a crime chooses to pursue justice, this group of people can choose to pursue damages as a collective, also known as a “class.” Typically, when pursuing a class action lawsuit, one defendant and their legal representatives make decisions on behalf of the entire collective.
Although joining a class action lawsuit might feel empowering, doing so might not be the most course of action. In fact, there are several downsides to joining class action lawsuits, especially for cases of institutional sexual abuse. For example:
- The settlement amounts awarded to class members are often significantly lower than they would have been had the individual plaintiffs pursued a civil claim on their own.
- Individual class members have no decision-making power and no say in how the class representative’s lawyers handle the lawsuit.
- If the lawsuit is settled in the class’s favour, it might only cover certain specific damages, regardless of how each individual member was impacted by the abuse they suffered.
- Class action lawsuits can take years before a resolution is reached, whereas civil claims might be resolved on a much faster timeline.
- People involved in a class action lawsuit are not entitled to pursue their own civil claim against the defendant.
- Class members cannot appeal class action settlements, even if they oppose the settlement since it is unfair to them.
In many situations, there is strength in numbers. Class action lawsuits may seem like an effective way to bring public attention to crimes committed by certain organizations. There are some benefits to class actions for certain types of claims, including some assault claims. Participating in a class action lawsuit might seem like the most straightforward and efficient course of action. However, by forfeiting your right to pursue a civil claim, you might unintentionally forego your chance of recovering the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
If potential class members do not make the decision to opt out, then they will be automatically included in the class action, even if they were never notified. It is important to seek legal advice and have a full understanding of your options before opting in or out of a class action.
Book Your Free Initial Consultation with Preszler Injury Lawyers
The process of pursuing justice for abhorrent crimes committed against you in the past can seem confusing and overwhelming. We know you have questions about the legal process and what the best course of action might be. By speaking with Preszler Injury Lawyers during a free initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to receive personalized, case-specific legal advice so that you can make the decision that’s best for you.
To discuss your case in a cost-free, no-obligation first meeting, contact Preszler Injury Lawyers today.