Class Action Suit Filed against Pair of Metro Vancouver Private Schools over Abuse Allegations
By Ben Miljure
February 9, 2021
|The Mount Cashel orphanage is shown in a 1989 photo. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)|
VANCOUVER -- Two Metro Vancouver private schools have been named in a lawsuit brought by a man who claims an attempted cover up of abuse allegations in Newfoundland led to several dangerous predators being transferred to schools in the Lower Mainland.
Darren Liptrot alleges he was physically and sexually abused by Brother Edward English while attending Vancouver College between 1981 and 1983.
Multiple children accused Edwards of abuse during his time at Newfoundland’s Mount Cashel Orphanage in the 1970s.
In 1991, a court convicted English of multiple charges related to physical and sexual abuse at Mount Cashel and he received a sentence of 10 years in prison.
Liptrot’s lawsuit alleges Christian Brothers in Canada, which ran the orphanage, learned of abuse allegations against six teachers, including English, and instead of taking disciplinary action, arranged for all of them to be transferred to British Columbia.
“Following incidents of abuse, the CBIC did not act to protect the children in their care, but to protect their abusers from criminal charges by moving them out of Newfoundland to teach at schools owned and operated by the CBIC,” the notice of civil claim said.
According to the suit, the six teachers worked at St. Thomas More Collegiate and Vancouver College.
Liptrot claims the abuse he allegedly suffered was the catalyst for a downward spiral of depression and addiction that has dominated his life in the ensuing decades.
"It destroyed his dreams of graduating from high school and going to university,” said Joe Fiorante, his lawyer. “And he's only now starting to realize how much he needs an accountability from the officials in charge who did nothing to protect him."
The suit also names as defendants The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s, The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver and the Catholic Independent Schools of Vancouver Archdiocese.
Individuals named include Edward English, Gerald Gabriel McHugh and John Kavalec.
Lawyers for Liptrot said the suit was filed as a class action because they believe he is not the only survivor of abuse following the transfer of teachers out of Newfoundland.
“Since Darren’s story broke yesterday, we have been fielding calls non-stop from other individuals with similar stories of abuse that happened to them at Vancouver College and St. Thomas More,” said Fiorante.
“It’s hugely important to the survivors that someone acknowledge what happened to them, and apologize and take accountability for it. It’s extremely important to be able to deal with the consequences of what happened to them.”
Officials at St. Thomas More did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“We take these claims very seriously. We are reviewing the Class Action Filing that was released this morning to learn the full scope of the allegations, and will respond accordingly once we have a better understanding and additional information,” Vancouver College said in a statement.
Neither the Archdiocese of Vancouver nor the Catholic Independent Schools Vancouver Archdiocese made anyone available to CTV News for an interview.
In an emailed statement, the Archdiocese of Vancouver said it has “a robust process in place for dealing with such complaints and we encourage anyone who has faced abuse to take their complaints to the police and to receive counselling from an independent third party.”
It went on to say it did not know why it was named as a defendant in this particular lawsuit.
“Vancouver College and St. Thomas Moore are not owned or operated by the Archdiocese of Vancouver or the Catholic Independent Schools Vancouver Archdiocese,” the statement said. “These two schools are both run by independent foundations. They own their own land and buildings, have their own curriculum, and make all their own hiring decisions. As a result we can make no further comment on this case.”
CTV News was unable to reach any of the individuals named as defendants in the class action suit. None of the allegations have been tested in court.