Sexual misconduct allegations surface involving former B.C. recovery worker

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B.C. recovery worker accused of sexual misconduct
There are sexual misconduct allegations about the behaviour of a man connected to the New Westminster recovery community. A number of women have come forward to say the man preyed on them at the most vulnerable time of their lives. As Emad Agahi reports, the New Westminster Police confirm they have opened an investigation. – Feb 8, 2023

WARNING: This story may be upsetting to some readers. Discretion is advised.

The New Westminster Police Department is investigating after sexual misconduct allegations have surfaced against a former contract employee at a drug and alcohol recovery centre.

Members of a private Facebook group have posted most of the allegations but one victim has agreed to share her story with Global News with anonymity.

For the purpose of the story, Global News is referring to the alleged victim as Jane. Jane said a man assaulted her almost a decade ago.

“When I relapsed he reached out and said he was going to help me and like get me groceries he took me to a bar and got me drunk and it went downhill from there,” Jane said.

“I kind of had already known he was doing some of the stuff he was doing, and I think my judgment wasn’t there because I was using drugs.”

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Global News is not naming the accused because he has not been charged.

The alleged victims said he was not a counsellor but worked as a contract employee at Last Door Recovery Centre, while the accusers are former clients of the Westminster House Society.

The women said the man met the victims at group events that clients from both recovery centres attended.

“Because he had such good standing with people that run the Last Door organization, I think that made him feel like he was untouchable,” Jane told Global News.

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She explained that both Last Door and Westminster House operate unofficially as sister centres and both staff and clients are well-known to each other, even after graduation.

Both Westminster House and Last Door declined interviews but did supply statements.

“Last Door Recovery Society took immediate action and severed ties with the individual when we learned of the misconduct allegations,” staff said in an email.

“We are not aware of any clients of the Last Door Recovery Society who are connected with those allegations. Public safety is paramount, and we urge anyone with information about this matter to contact the police.”

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Westminster House staff also responded via email.

“This individual has never been an employee of WHS and has never been associated with our programs in any way,” staff said.

“WHS has strict policies and procedures to ensure the safety of the women in our care, and we have never had any complaints of misconduct from women in our care in our 42 years of serving women in the community.”

Jane heard the emailed responses and vehemently disagrees.

“I am furious. That is not true,” argued Jane. “Because I myself have come out. My friends have gone to staff there.”

She and other alleged victims dispute the assertion from Westminister House that it has not heard complaints from “women in (its) care” — accusing the centre of using a formality to dodge accountability, as those who reported misconduct were alumni.

“The organizations encourage a strong recovery community and in that, you get an alumni status. You get to go to alumni nights and be really involved in transitional recovery which helps a lot of people stay clean,” Jane said.

“A lot of times Westminster House would tell clients graduating to call him because he has an apartment and he rents to people in recovery.

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“So, not only did they know this was going on but they were sending women to him when (after) they graduated.”

In a timely call to action, New Westminster Police have posted a call to action video to social media reminding potential victims of sexual violence to come forward.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, support is available: 

  • The Department of Justice Victim Services Directory includes a list of support services in your area.
  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) Available 24/7 or Text CONNECT 686868

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