The Telegram (St. John's)
Class action launched
Lawyers announce child sexual abuse and physical abuse lawsuit against N.L. government
Lawyers launched a class action lawsuit against the provincial government Wednesday for physical and sexual abuse of children in provincial government custody between 1953 and 1989 that they say rivals what happened at Mount Cashel.
Lawyer Lynn Moore said the provincial government failed to act to stop rampant sexual abuse at the Boys’ Home and Training School and the Girls’ Home and Training School over the course of decades.
“It’s really disturbing on many levels, the information that government had that they did not act on,” Moore said.
“We had a client tell us he was being sexually assaulted and he was reporting it, and they threw him in ‘the hole.’ They threw him in solitary confinement because he made a complaint of sexual abuse.”
At this point, none of the allegations have been proven in court, and the lawsuit hasn’t yet been certified as a class action, which is the first major hurdle the claimants will have to clear.
Justice Minister Andrew Parsons was unavailable to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday, but spokeswoman Amy Stoodley sent a statement on his behalf.
“Out of respect for the privacy of the individuals involved, and because this is before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment on the specifics of this case,” the emailed statement said.
“We see, as a law firm who does a lot of work in this area of sexual abuse, approximately 10 men contacting us for representation for every one woman.” Lynn Moore, lawyer
The institutions moved around a bit — the Boys’ Home and Training School was in Torbay, Whitbourne and Pleasantville, and on Waterford Bridge Road and on Bell Island at different times. The girls’ home was also located on Portugal Cove Road and Waterford Bridge Road, and in Torbay and Pleasantville during different periods between 1953 and 1989.
Moore said victims of abuse should contact the law firm Morris Martin Moore, and, in particular, they’re hoping to hear from women who were in the girls’ home.
Moore said women generally are much more likely to be assaulted, but they don’t tend to come forward and report it.
“We see, as a law firm who does a lot of work in this area of sexual abuse, approximately 10 men contacting us for representation for every one woman,” she said.
“We’re making a special appeal to women who were in Pleasantville or who were in the other homes … to contact us. We are also looking for the men to contact us, but it seems, as with many things, women are often reluctant to come forward.”
There is no dollar value yet placed on the potential damages in the lawsuit.