On February 7, 2012, Gordon Stuckless a former assistant
equipment manager at Maple Leaf Gardens, was charged with six more
counts of indecent assault against young boys in a historical
sexual assault case. You may remember Stuckless because he pleaded
guilty to 24 counts of sexual and indecent assault in 1997.
Subsequently, one of his victims, Martin Kruze, jumped to his death
off the Bloor Viaduct. Stuckless was sentenced to jail and was
paroled in February 2001. The allegations currently being pressed
against Stuckless, now 63, include that he assaulted two more boys,
one 11-year-old and one 13-year-old, at a school, a community
centre and various other locations across Toronto in the late
It is likely that the individuals who say they too were abused
by Gordon Stuckless and are now coming forward to police will also
consider claiming compensation through our civil courts, not only
against Mr Stuckless whose ability to pay is probably limited, but
also against the organizations that placed him in positions of
authority and responsibility over them as children. Certainly, it
is their right to seek compensation through a civil court process
for the harms they have suffered, and this is something that the
criminal courts, which are geared to punishment not compensation,
are simply not equipped to offer.
In my experience as a civil litigator practicing in the abuse
field for almost two decades now, it is extremely common for
individuals who were abused as kids or teens to delay for years and
sometimes decades before coming forward with their allegations.
These individuals generally feel great shame and guilt about what
happened to them and one of their coping mechanisms – both
while the actual abuse is occurring and subsequently – is to
avoid thinking about or dealing with the abuse. This phenomenon is
well recognized by those in the mental health field who treat
individuals who have suffered a trauma like sexual assault. I have
seen a whole range of triggers cause individuals to come forward
with their allegations of abuse many years after the fact. These
include seeing their own children reach the age they were at when
they were abused and realizing how innocent and vulnerable they too
must have been at this age. It can also be something in the public
domain, such as media reports about victims coming forward or a
child abuser being convicted and being sent to jail. This can
sometimes serve to empower victims to break their silence. I have
also seen many instances where, despite widespread publicity such
as that which Gordon Stuckless attracted in the 1990s when the
sexual assault allegations against him were previously before the
courts, victims of the same perpetrator hold back for many years
more before finally coming forward. This is usually because they
are just not in a state of mind or a place where they feel strong
enough, or they have the supports necessary, to open up what can be
a very painful and disruptive Pandora's box both to them and to
their families or communities.
Historical sexual abuse cases are commonly brought before the
courts many years, even decades, after the abuse happened, when
they can finally gather up the strength to go to the police or to
seek legal advice from a civil lawyer like me about whether they
can pursue compensation for what happened to them. Sometimes they
do both – participate in a criminal case against their
alleged perpetrator and initiate a claim for compensation against
their perpetrators and/or the organizations they believe put them
in harms' way. In recognition of how long it can take those who
have suffered sexual abuse to come forward, the courts and, more
recently legislatures through legislative reforms addressing
limitation periods, have relaxed the legal principles that might
otherwise have stopped abuse victims from successfully putting
forward their allegations and claims before the courts.
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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