Former Vernon, B.C. cadet files civil claim to ensure ‘this never happens to another child’

Click to play video: 'Civil suit alleging abuse seeks to change cadet organization'
Civil suit alleging abuse seeks to change cadet organization
WATCH: A former cadet who attended the Vernon, B.C., cadet camp in the 1970s has filed a lawsuit alleging his time at the facility lead to abuse at the hands of an adult cadet captain. – Mar 14, 2023

A former cadet from Vernon, B.C., who recently filed a civil suit alleging he was groomed and later raped by one of the camp’s captains in the 1970s, is not looking for an apology. He wants to see systemic change.

“My client is now an older individual and he spent the better part of his life processing the trauma from this event,” Mallory Hogan, the lawyer representing the man who is identified in court documents only as A.B., said.

“He’s now decided it’s time to say something, it’s time to stand up and it’s time to actually bring an action to ensure that there is institutional change.”

Hogan said her client is aware of the class action suit filed on behalf of 245 women last year in Ontario, claiming that Cadets Canada has a culture in place that “condones and encourages sexual assault and harassment towards young female cadets.”

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Read more: Former Vernon, B.C. cadet files civil claim alleging rape by camp captain

The law firm in the Ontario case said there have been dozens more allegations brought forth since the class action suit, which only deals with the years between 2006 and 2015.

“To my client, that’s really disturbing because what happened to him was in the 1970s  and it’s clear, it’s still happening today,” Hogan said. “So he wants his suffering and his life to mean something. And he wants to see change within the Cadets Canada organization. He sees this lawsuit as a means to do so.”

According to the civil claim, it was 1977 when A.B. joined Cadets Canada, and there he was trained to “trust and respect the ultimate authority of his superior officers without question.”

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Two years into the program, he was invited to the Cadets Canada camp in Vernon where he met his alleged rapist, who was a captain between 1979 and 1983. He’s described as “an adult in a position of authority and power over the then-infant A.B.”

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During the camp, the relationship grew in a way that A.B. began to see the older man as a father figure and someone whom he confided in and trusted.

Not long after the camp, the captain took A.B. and two other boys for a hotel stay and there, he’s alleged to have raped him, starting while he was asleep.

“The grooming was a deliberate process of manipulation and trust building … to lower the plaintiff’s inhibitions, erode the plaintiff’s boundaries, and create a relationship where he could coerce and later sexually exploit the plaintiff and ensure the plaintiff’s loyalty and silence,” reads the claim.

Read more: Canada’s military a ‘broken system’ that’s a ‘liability’ to the country, report finds

Hogan said that the consequences were devastating.

“The person that he was meant to be is not who he is today,” she said, adding the assault happened when her client was just 14 years old.

“He has suffered immensely, and it has taken him the better part of his life to come forward and seek justice and accountability for what happened to him and what has happened to so many others within the organization. But he struggles with this every day of his life. The reality is though, he wants his suffering to mean something.”

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Hogan said her client first came forward with these allegations in the last 10 years and made a complaint to the Victoria police who conducted a “thorough investigation” and recommended charges to Crown counsel. That’s where the criminal case stopped.

“My client is very, very happy with the police investigation and in fact, when he was advised by the police that Crown counsel was not able to proceed they expressed to him that they were very disappointed about that,” Hogan said.

“There was an investigation, and no charges were laid. But that doesn’t mean that a civil suit is impossible … In the civil system, the burden of proof is a balance of probabilities. So in the criminal system, it’s beyond a reasonable doubt. The criminal system has a much higher burden of proof than the civil system.”

Military police were also informed of the complaint when the Victoria Police Department investigated, though A.B. didn’t inform them directly.

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“He, as far as I’m aware, did not inform Military Police directly of this. But I would say that is quite common for victims in that kind of circumstance,” Hogan said.

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“These crimes happen with no witnesses typically, and when the individual is very, very young.”

She said the average age for a person to make a report of sexual abuse is actually 52 years old, so not reporting the assault to Cadets Canada is “pretty par for the course.”

Read more: Why don’t survivors report sexual assault? It’s a complicated, personal choice

While Cadets Canada, the accused attacker and the federal government have all been named in the suit that was filed last month, they’ve yet to respond. Accordingly, none of the allegations have been tested in court.

“My client would like to see actual recognition of these harms happening within the cadet’s organization, not just a rubber stamp or leadership saying ‘we’re so sorry that this happened in the 1970s,'” Hogan said.

“(He wants) recognition that this is a problem today. This is ongoing today. And he wants to see active steps being taken for investigations into these cases.

“He wants to know what is Cadets Canada doing today to ensure that this never happens to another child.”

“So he’s looking for institutional change at the policy level, and as well, he’s not looking for an apology. He’s looking for concrete, demonstrable changes within the cadets Canada organization.”

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If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, find available supports at the ‘Getting Help‘ page of the Ending Violence Association of Canada.

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