"In B. (D.A.) v. Children's Aid Society of Durham Region, the Plaintiff sought production of a file relating to him held by the Anglican Diocese of Toronto. The Plaintiff, who is an ordained Anglican priest, is seeking damages against the Defendants with respect to their alleged failure to act professionally and with reasonable care with respect to certain protection proceedings involving him." The courts found in favour of B. (D.A.) and against the Diocese of Toronto.
"The plaintiff when he was young was sexually assaulted and abused by an employee of The Children's Foundation, an organization that operated residential care facilities for the treatment of emotionally disturbed children between the ages of six and twelve ." J. Lowry found the Foundation liable.
"This was an action for damages arising out of sexual assault by an employee of the defendant Club [Boys & Girls Club of Vernon]. The personal defendant had pleaded guilty to fourteen counts of sexual assault involving the plaintiffs and other children who attended the Club." J. Wilkinson found the Club liable.
"The plaintiff in this action was sexually abused by his parish priest and brought an action for damages against the priest and the diocese [of Antigonish]." "Even assuming that the priest was in a fiduciary relationship with the plaintiff, his improper conduct was clearly outside the scope of his employment and the diocese was not liable to the plaintiff under this head since there was no relationship between the diocese and the plaintiff (who was merely a member of the church) and the diocese was not responsible for ensuring that the priest did not abuse his power and authority".
Toronto - The Anglican Primate of Canada has lent the authority of his office to an effort to resolve the issues arising from sexual abuse at St. George's Cathedral, Kingston. A police investigation begun in the fall of 1989 revealed that the church's former choirmaster had sexually abused many of the choir boys under his supervision over a period of fifteen years.
Archbishop Michael Peers has announced the appointment of one of Canada's foremost authorities in the sexual abuse of children to work with the congregation and others in the community. Mary Wells is the author of Canada's Law on Child Sexual Abuse (published by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, 1990) and supervisor of long term care for the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto. She has worked in the area of child welfare for more than 20 years. (See attached biography.) Ms. Wells will make her services available to the community in July, but she will begin familiarizing herself with the case immediately.
The appointment comes at the request of the St. George's congregation, after its "vestry", or annual meeting, earlier this year. The congregation voted with near-unanimity to request the Primate "to appoint a convenor of sufficient stature, integrity and impartiality to begin a process of reconciliation and healing within this parish and the community of Kingston."
As a convenor, Ms. Wells will be available to work with all persons who have been victimized, directly or indirectly, by the abuse. "People need opportunities to express their grief and anger," Ms. Wells says. "We have to acknowledge the widespread destruction caused by this pattern of abuse. I hope especially that this process will give a voice to those victims who have not been heard."
The convenor's role is to help members of the community to design a process for reconciliation. In the course of this, Ms. Wells will make periodic progress reports which will be available to the public.
The St. George's congregation had initially called for a private inquiry, but ultimately decided to opt for the convenor, which they see as a more positive process designed to achieve healing. It will provide opportunities for victims to be heard, and put structures in place to promote ongoing healing.
The Right Reverend Peter Mason will become Bishop of the Diocese of Ontario at a consecration ceremony on Sunday, May 31: "I'm grateful that Archbishop Peers has made this appointment," he said, "and I will give my fullest support to any initiatives that may promote healing. Many people in the community continue to experience great pain as a result of the abuse. I hope and pray that the convenor's appointment may provide a new beginning."
Michael Bedford-Jones, the dean of the cathedral since September 1, 1991, also expresses his support: "As Dean, I welcome the appointment of a convenor, especially of someone with the experience and stature of Mary Wells," he says. "I fervently hope that Ms. Wells will be able to help all of us strive for reconciliation. I assure Ms. Wells of the full cooperation of the cathedral, including complete access to all pertinent records, as well as my personal cooperation and support."
Archbishop Peers notes that sexual abuse of children has become a major issue in society and across the church. "The Christian church has been reluctant to believe that it can harbour sexual abusers of children within its midst. We have been cautious - often too cautious - in our responses. Today, virtually every diocese in Canada is doing some work on sexual abuse," he says. "We hope this process of healing can become a model, not just for St. George's, but for anywhere that community been broken by the sin of sexual abuse."
St. George's Cathedral has been the centre of controversy since it was revealed that the church's choirmaster since 1974, John Gallienne, was abusing members of the boys choir. Mr. Gallienne was brought to trial in 1990 and pleaded guilty to 21 counts of sexual abuse brought by 13 complainants. The actual number of direct victims of his abuse is not known.
The convenor's position description (copy attached) distinguishes among what it refers to as primary, secondary and tertiary victims of the abuse. Primary victims are those persons who were sexually abused by Mr. Gallienne during his tenure as choirmaster. Secondary victims include: families and relatives of the primary victims; families and relatives of Mr. Gallienne; and those who were not directly abused, but who were members of a choir or public school students of Mr. Gallienne during the period. Tertiary victims are parishioners of St. George's and other members of the community who have been hurt by the criminal actions of Mr. Gallienne and the church's response to these actions.
All will have open access to the process, with primary victims being given top priority. Ms. Wells will establish an independent office in Kingston (separate from the cathedral) to provide an environment where she hopes victims, or anyone in the community, will feel welcomed and able to speak in an atmosphere of confidentiality and respect. Ms. Wells notes, however, that confidentiality is limited by law; she will report any new disclosures of abuse to the Children's Aid Society, in conformity with the Child and Family Services Act. (It is anticipated that the office will be established by July 6. Ms. Wells will hold a news conference in Kingston at that time to give more information about the process.)
Ms. Wells' appointment as convenor covers a ten-month period, but the healing process is intended to continue much longer. Ultimately, she says, the people who participate in the healing process will take it over and carry it on. "The community has to heal together."
Enclosures: Biographic sketch of Mary Wells; Convenor's Position Description.
or further information, contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Communications, (416) 924-9192, (416) 335-8349 (res.); Mary Wells (416) 925-6641.
The author is a Child Abuse Consultant at the Lake of the Woods Child Development Centre in Kenora, and one of 37 Anglicans to attend the fifth National Conference on Child Abuse, organized by the Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse, held in Toronto October 22-24, 1991.