New sex-abuse lawsuit filed against Scouts Canada in Ottawa

September 7, 2018

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The 55-year-old man, identified only as C.A., filed a lawsuit this month in which he alleges he was repeatedly abused in the mid-1970s by John Allan Brown, then leader of Brockville’s 8th District Scout Troop.

It is the second abuse lawsuit filed this year in Ottawa that names Brown.

A total of five historic sex abuse lawsuits have now been filed against Scouts Canada in Ottawa during the past two years. All of them remain active.

Brown died in an Ontario prison in March 2010 — 13 years after he was declared a dangerous offender because of his sex crimes.

According to a Statement of Claim filed in the case, C.A. met Brown in 1976 through his scouting activities.

“Brown developed with the plaintiff, under the guise of a Scouts Canada-related mentorship, a relationship that allowed him to be alone with the plaintiff, exert control over him, prey upon him and sexually abuse him,” the claim alleges.

Although most of the abuse took place at Brown’s home, the claim alleges, incidents also took place at the Scout camp in Athens, Ont., and at the Boy Scout Jamboree in Prince Edward Island.

The man’s lawyer, Rob Talach, contends that Scouts Canada bears legal responsibility for the abuse since Brown used his position as a Scout leader to meet, manipulate and abuse children.

He argues that Scouts Canada failed in its duty to protect C.A., or to warn his parents about the potential risk involved in scouting activities.

By the mid-1970s, the claim charges, “Scouts Canada had at least two decades of records and data sufficient to constitute legal notice that they had an organization-wide problem with sexual abuse of minors.”

In the 1950s, the claim contends, Scouts Canada began compiling a confidential list with the names of volunteers deemed “not satisfactory” to work with young people because of their “sexual perversion, immorality or gross misconduct.” (CBC’s The Fifth Estate first reported the existence of the list in October 2011.)

Scouts Canada kept that list confidential, the claim alleges, and failed to put measures in place to prevent the kind of abuse suffered by C.A.

None of the allegations made in the legal documents have been tested in court.

Scouts Canada has yet to file a statement of defence in the case, but a spokesman Friday denied the allegation that the organization suppressed information about child abusers.

“Unfortunately, there have been instances in the past where scouting youth have been harmed, and for that we are deeply sorry,” said Scouts Canada spokesman John Petitti. “These instances are a matter of public record, as is the fact that we have done our best to help victims in their healing process whenever we can.”

In 2011, Petitti noted, Scouts Canada hired the accounting firm KPMG to conduct an independent review of its handling of sexual misconduct claims within its ranks.

The report examined 486 cases of alleged sexual misconduct dating back to the 1940s. It found that, in 65 of those cases, the allegations had not been reported to police when they first came to light. All of them have now been reported.

Petitti said the KPMG review “found no systemic intent” to protect abusers or hide crimes. “In addition,” he said, “the review uncovered no data suggesting a pattern of mismanagement or systemic wrongful behaviour in records dating back to 1947.”

After the review, Scouts Canada strengthened its child-protection measures with new policies on bullying, abuse reporting and volunteer screening. It now has in place a rule that requires at least two approved officials to be present during all scouting activities.

aduffy@postmedia.com

Published on August 24, 2018

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