Help Lacking for Male Victims of Sex Abuse, Expert Tells Public Inquiry

940 News [Canada]
February 14, 2006

CORNWALL, Ont. (CP) - There is a glaring lack of social services for men who were abused as children, an expert testified Tuesday as the public inquiry into allegations of widespread sexual abuse in this eastern Ontario city entered its second day.

"More public awareness for men - in other words, how to access proper services and of course to provide those proper services - is very needed," said Dr. David Wolfe, a psychiatry and psychology professor at the University of Toronto.

"Even if you did decide to seek help or are under pressure of your family . . .it's not easy to find the right service."

When told only one organization in Ontario provides help for male victims of sexual assault, Wolfe said, "It wouldn't surprise me."

The independent judicial probe is examining how authorities, including police, handled persistent allegations that children had been sexually abused at the hands of prominent members of the Cornwall area for nearly half a century.

After a sweeping investigation known as Project Truth began in 1992, police laid 114 charges against 15 people, including a doctor, a lawyer and three members of the Roman Catholic clergy.

In the end, only three cases ever made it to court, with one man pleading guilty. Police said they found no evidence that a pedophile ring operated in the city.

The inquiry is expected to hear from a number of experts on sexual abuse issues before testimony specific to the alleged abuse begins sometime near the end of March.

Most of the services geared towards male abuse victims are offered through prisons, said Wolfe, the first witness to testify at the inquiry.

There are 34 sexual assault centres for women in Ontario, none of which have a mandate from the Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General to deal with men, the inquiry heard.

When asked his opinion on the state of child welfare investigations, Wolfe said there's a lot of room for improvement.

"They've come a long way, but it remains a difficult area," he told Peter Chisholm, a lawyer representing the local branch of the Children's Aid Society.

"Mistakes can be made as they are in any investigation, so it has to be taken of the utmost of care."

Stories have been spreading since the late 1950s about a purported underground group of pedophiles operating in this eastern Ontario city.

The inquiry is tentatively scheduled to last until the end of the year.


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