Ottawa ordered to pay former cadets who
were sexually abused
News Posted: Apr 07, 2006 9:04 PM ET Last Updated:
Apr 07, 2006 10:24 PM ET
Thirty-five former sea cadets have won $8
million in compensation from the federal government for
sexual abuse they suffered more than 25 years ago.
Justice Austen Cullen of the B.C. Supreme
Court ruled Friday the government was guilty of negligence
because it failed to protect the cadets from sexual abuse.
The cadets, who were between ages 12 and
17, were sexually abused by officers aboard HMCS Discovery
which is stationed in B.C.'s Stanley Park. The cadets were
abused between 1964 and 1980.
"In many cases, a lot of these
individuals didn't tell even their parents or their
siblings," said lawyer Robert Gibbens, who
represented the former cadets in the class-action suit.
"They just kept it to themselves, this dirty little
secret, for 10, 20 years."
Gibbens said that in some cases, the
cadets did tell other officers who were also abusers. He
said in at least one case, a cadet was told to keep it
"It's been a long time coming.
Hopefully this settlement will provide some comfort and
some closure for them," Gibbens said.
Two of the officers, Ralph Bremner and
Conrad Sundman, already have been found guilty of sexual
abuse and other sex crimes.
Sundman was sentenced to seven years in
prison three years ago after earlier pleading guilty to 13
counts of indecent assault and three counts of buggery.
Bremner was convicted of four counts of
indecent assault on boys aged 13 to15.
Friday's decision comes after several
years of criminal and civil proceedings. Gibbens said $1.8
million is also being set aside for cadets who have not
yet come forward.
decades of silence, former sea cadet speaks out about
sexual abuse: 'It was a den of iniquity'
VANCOUVER — From Monday's
Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Apr. 10, 2006 12:00AM
Last updated Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2009
William White shudders when he recalls the
horrific sexual abuse he suffered while serving in HMCS
Discovery's sea cadet program in the late 1960s.
"It was a den of iniquity . . . just
bizarre," said Mr. White, a 52-year-old fence
repairman who lives in Surrey and alleges he is one of at
least 200 former cadets who may have been sexually abused.
After decades of silence, he agreed to
speak out in the hope that more will come forward to claim
their share of a $10-million compensation package approved
last week by the B.C. Supreme Court.
Mr. White was the lead plaintiff in the
class-action lawsuit that argued the Attorney-General of
Canada was negligent and did not protect cadets from being
prey to sexual misconduct. It also named as defendants the
Navy League of Canada, as well as officers Ralph Bremner,
Conrad Sundman, Beverly Wilson and the executive estate of
the late Clarence Anderson.
Mr. Bremner and Mr. Sundman were found
guilty of sexual abuse and other sex crimes. Mr. Wilson
was found too old and unfit to stand trial.
In 2001, Mr. Sundman was sentenced to
seven years in prison after pleading guilty to 13 counts
of indecent assault and three counts of buggery. Mr.
Bremner was convicted of four counts of indecent assault
on boys aged between 13 and 15.
In a statement of defence, lawyers acting
for the Attorney-General argued that Mr. White was guilty
of prolonged, inordinate and inexcusable delay in
launching the class-action suit and seeking compensation.
They also denied that "Her Majesty's servants,
employees, agents or representatives" were negligent.
Under the settlement, 35 victims who
launched the class-action lawsuit are eligible to share in
a compensation package worth $8-million.
Another $1.8-million has been set aside
for cadets who were not party to the class-action suit,
but who were also abused and believe they may be entitled
"I need to get the word out that they
have only 45 days to come forward otherwise they are not
going to get any compensation," Mr. White said.
Mr. White joined the sea cadets at 13,
hoping it would be a stepping stone to a career as a
globe-trotting naval officer.
In an interview yesterday, he said that
soon after joining, he became the target of ex-navy
officers who preyed on sea cadets, who he said plied them
with alcohol and sexually assaulted them at HMCS
Discovery's Vancouver naval base, on military buses, and
in their homes.
Mr. White, a single parent, who spent time
in jail for armed robbery, has put his life back together
and said he maintains his sanity by concentrating on work
and his two sons.
But he said other cadets will have been so
ashamed of what they experienced at HMCS Discovery from
1964 to 1980 that they may not have told anyone.
In the interview, he said his first
experience of sexual abuse was while he was standing at
attention on a crowded military bus that was used to pick
up cadets at the entrance to Vancouver's Stanley Park and
take them into the naval base.
Mr. Anderson, who was sitting at the back
of the bus, "would open your fly and put his mouth on
your penis," he said. Horrified and embarrassed, Mr.
White said he felt helpless. "You are shocked,"
he said. "You can't punch them on the face because
you just don't know what to do. "You hope it won't
happen again. . . . but it happens again and again and
Mr. White has alleged that cadets were
frequently invited over to Mr. Anderson's house, where
they were offered drinks and shown pornographic magazines
before being sexually abused in his bedroom.
Lawyers acting for the victims argued that
the officers had a degree of control over the cadets in a
military environment that the civil world cannot conceive.
After he got fed up with the abuse and
quit the sea cadets in 1970, Mr. White said he kept those
experiences to himself for nearly three decades.
He was persuaded to seek out a lawyer only
after hearing about Sheldon Kennedy, the former National
Hockey League player, who confronted his coach Graham
James and had him sent to jail for sexually abusing Mr.
Kennedy and another teenaged player in the early 1990s.
"I thought that if Sheldon could do
it, so could I," he said.