Ottawa Citizen [Ottawa, Ontario, Canada]
June 18, 2021
By David Pugliese
Bobbie Bees said the abuse of children on military bases was not an isolated incident, but alleged that the Department of National Defence swept the crimes under the rug.
The Canadian government is facing a class action lawsuit over the sexual abuse of children on military bases by a Canadian Forces chaplain.
Vancouver resident Bobbie Bees said Thursday he decided to move forward with the lawsuit because Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and the Department of National Defence have declined to help the victims of convicted pedophile Capt. Angus McRae who molested children during the 1970s and 1980s.
“I never wanted a claim in the first place, but the Minister of National Defence and the Department of National Defence have made it very clear that they are unwilling to assist military dependants who were sexually abused on military bases,” Bees said.
Last year this newspaper, citing newly released court martial records from 1980, reported that McRae took children to his quarters at CFB Edmonton and gave them alcohol before sexually assaulting them. The court martial transcripts showed the military knew McRae had multiple victims and knew of previous allegations against the Catholic priest related to incidents in Kingston and Cornwall.
Despite the evidence presented at the court martial, military police never expanded their initial investigation to include McRae’s other victims who lived on Canadian Forces bases.
The Canadian Forces had fought for 40 years to keep such details under wraps, even to the point of falsely claiming the original charges against McRae couldn’t be revealed to the public.
Bees, who was sexually assaulted at the Edmonton base when he was seven years old in 1980, had battled the DND for years to get McRae’s records and court martial transcripts released under the access law.
The class action lawsuit was filed by lawyers in Alberta.
“As this is an ongoing legal matter it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time,” DND spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier said.
Bees said the abuse of children on military bases was not an isolated incident, but alleged that the Department of National Defence swept the crimes under the rug in order to avoid embarrassment.
McRae was convicted of sodomizing a child at the Edmonton base in 1980 and was kicked out of the military. In 1989, McRae was arrested by civilian police in the Toronto area for sexually molesting two boys. He plead guilty to sexual exploitation and sexual interference for fondling the buttocks of boys aged 12 and 14. McRae, then 63, was given three years’ probation and avoided any jail time.
Until last year, the DND claimed that it couldn’t release any information about McRae’s court martial because the department needed to protect the privacy of the convicted pedophile, who died in 2011.
McRae’s original court martial was cloaked in secrecy and the Canadian Forces cited “the interest of public safety” for closing the proceedings to journalists and the public.
During that court martial it was revealed that the Canadian Forces had a list of kids who were at McRae’s quarters or his chapel and the priest admitted to military police he had “sexual dealings” with other boys besides those interviewed by law enforcement officers.
McRae also signed a confession on June 10, 1980, admitting to the Catholic Church he committed “indecent acts with several minors over the past couple of years,” according to the court martial records obtained by Bees.
Bees has faced pushback from some in the military community. After Bees tweeted in September that Sajjan needed to resign and be replaced by a minister “not so beholden to the dirty secrets of the Canadian Forces” a retired lieutenant general fired back a response to the sexual assault survivor. “Foil Cappers Unite!!!” retired Lt.-Gen. Mike Day tweeted.
Bees said at the time he wasn’t surprised by Day’s reference to tinfoil caps, suggesting Bees’ claims were part of a conspiracy theory. “I get that from some retired military and even serving military,” Bees said.
The class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of “victims of abuse through the intentional physical, mental and sexual acts of Captain Father Angus McRae on Canadian Forces bases,” according to the Guardian Law Group and James Brown & Associates. The lawyers noted that, despite his conviction, the Canadian government did not make an effort to seek out and compensate those affected by McRae’s actions.