An alleged victim of sex abuse at a Maple Ridge school gets his day in court, 27 years later
WARNING: Disturbing content.
When Darren Telford was in Grade 2, he drew a picture that depicted sexual abuse by Joseph Duff, who he claimed was a school volunteer.
The picture depicted two stick figures — one with a smile, and what looked like a speech balloon scrawled out in black.
The other figure wasn’t smiling at all.
“It’s a picture of Joseph and me,” Telford told Global News. “It was a cry for help because I felt helpless.”
Telford, now 32, said Duff started sexually assaulting him when he was in kindergarten — at five years old.
“He put his hands down my pants and fondled my genitals,” Telford said.
“He’d play games like, ‘Oh it’s getting bigger, Darren. It’s getting bigger.’ I was confused.”
Almost 30 years later, Telford is taking School District 42 (Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows) to court in a civil suit.
The claim alleges that Duff was in charge of games and activities at Maple Ridge’s Glenwood Elementary School, and that he sexually assaulted Telford.
The suit claims that the school failed to protect him and that the abuse continued. Telford hopes the case will answer some questions.
“Who knew? When did they know? Who was responsible for this?” he asked.
“The school was supposed to protect me from the monsters.”
Telford was interviewed by RCMP in 1991.
Cpl. Pat Walsh wrote in a report that “the boy comes across as believable.”
With regards to Duff, the investigator wrote, “I was unable to form an opinion about his truthfulness.”
Telford claims his mother reported the sexual abuse to then-school principal George Sikora, but no one believed her and the abuse continued until he was seven years old.
The family was forced to move because the school failed to protect him, the lawsuit claims.
To further complicate matters, three key players in the case — Duff, Sikora and Telford’s mother Loretta — have since passed away.
The school district refused a Global News request for an interview, saying the matter is before the court.
According to the statement of defence, “The school district denies that sexual acts, assaults, or touching… occurred in or on property occupied by or in the possession or control of the school district.”
The statement went on to say that Duff was at “no time employed by the defendant school district nor was he at any time volunteering or involved in supervising children at any school district facility on behalf of or with the knowledge of the school district or any of its staff.
“Neither the school district or any of its employees were advised at any time of any alleged sexual abuse committed by Joseph Duff.”
Duff was charged in 1999 with two counts of sexual assault against Telford but the case never went to trial. Duff was later released on a peace bond for reasons that are still not known.
Also in 1999, the RCMP interviewed other children who attended Glenwood Elementary.
Police documents reveal graphic drawings and details involving allegations of sexual abuse against Duff.
The civil suit will be heard in B.C. Supreme Court next month.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
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