Calgary law firm files class-action lawsuit over sexual abuse by Canadian Armed Forces chaplain

Calgary Herald [Calgary, Alberta, Canada]

June 17, 2021

By Kevin Martin

The claim says the federal government was responsible for McRae’s abusive behaviour at bases where he was deployed throughout the country

Hundreds of children were mentally, physically and sexually abused by a Canadian Armed Forces priest, a class-action lawsuit filed by two Calgary lawyers claims.

In the legal action, filed in Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench, lawyers Clint Docken and Mathew Farrell seek compensation for Bobbie Bees and others who were abused by Capt. Angus McRae, a priest who worked as a chaplain at various military bases.

The lawsuit, which names the federal Crown as defendant, says Bees, the representative plaintiff in the case, grew up on various military bases and lived at CFB Namao in Edmonton from 1978 to 1980.

“Throughout the plaintiff’s time on the Canadian Forces Base Namao, the plaintiff was subjected to numerous cases of mental, physical and sexual abuse by Captain Father Angus McRae … and his alter boy P.S.,” the statement of claim says.

It says McRae, who died in 2011, was a military officer beginning in 1973.

“In his position as an officer, McRae was in a position of power over the many underaged children living on the Canadian Armed Forces Base Namao. McRae used this position of power, granted to him by the defendant, Canada to abuse hundreds of children mentally, physically and sexually.”

The claim says the federal government was responsible for McRae’s abusive behaviour at bases where he was deployed throughout the country.

“The defendant, Canada knew or ought to have known of the physical, sexual and mental abuse, which with plaintiffs were subjected to at the Canadian Forces Base Namao and other Canadian Forces bases across the country. The defendant, Canada failed and neglected to prevent the physical and mental abuse of the plaintiffs,” it says.

Among the methods of abuse suffered by the victims were private and public degradation and humiliation; sexual assaults; forced confinement; and isolation from the plaintiffs’ families, it alleges.

Court-martial transcripts — released by the military last year after Postmedia articles in August and September about ongoing efforts by the Department of National Defence and the military to block efforts by Bees from getting the documents — showed McRae took children to his quarters at the Edmonton base and gave them alcohol before sexually assaulting them.

The transcripts from 1980 show the military knew the pedophile priest had multiple victims and knew of previous allegations against McRae related to incidents in Kingston and Cornwall, Ont.

A statement of defence, disputing the allegations which haven’t been tested in court, has not been filed.

— With files from the Ottawa Citizen

On Twitter: @KMartinCourts