Former Mount Cashel teacher allegedly abused minors in BC until 2009

Former Mount Cashel teacher allegedly abused minors in BC until 2009

The infamous orphanage in Mount Cashel, Newfoundland, demolished in 1992 (archives)

A young man from British Columbia alleges that Joseph Burke, a former Christian School Brother first convicted of abusing boys at a Newfoundland orphanage in the early 1970s, sexually assaulted him at many times from 2007 to 2009.

Man, whose identity is not disclosed in court documents, says Joseph Burke was his teacher at Vancouver College, a private school run by the Brothers of the Christian Schools in Vancouver.

In his statement, the complainant says he was sexually assaulted in eighth and ninth grade. These assaults allegedly took place in Joseph Burke's classroom.

“I have struggled with the effects of this abuse my entire adult life. […] While I am determined that these events do not define who I am or how I live my life, my reality is that these events damaged my mental health [and] impacted my ability to learn, study and work.

— Plaintiff's Affidavit

Joseph Burke has not responded to allegations set out in court documents, which are part of a class action lawsuit proposed against several parties, including Joseph Burke himself.

None of the allegations have yet been proven in court.

The complaint is against Vancouver College; St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby; the Corporation of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver (Archdiocese of Vancouver); and several Christian Brothers who were shunned from the infamous Mount Cashel Orphanage in Saint John, NL in the 1970s.

The proposed class action will begin with a certification hearing that is expected to last seven days starting Monday. A judge will then decide whether the class action can proceed or whether the allegations should be split into separate lawsuits, which Vancouver College would like.

The procedural framework used for class action lawsuits is not the preferable process for handling claims, the school states on its website. Vancouver College will post an update once the decision is known and next steps have been determined.

The complaint alleges that the archiepiscopal corporation and the schools must have known that six Christian Brothers were accused and, in some cases, convicted of assaults on boys in Saint John, before being sent to the Vancouver area.

When the Mount Cashel scandal broke in 1989, all of the men named in the most recent complaint were teaching at Vancouver College or St. Thomas More. This included Joseph Burke, Edward English, Edward French, Douglas Kenny, David Burton and Kevin Short.

These six men were convicted of historic crimes at Mount Cashel, but in the case of Joseph Burke, the indecent assault convictions were ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1996 due to inconsistencies in the convictions. testimonials.

The physical assault conviction stood, but Joseph Burke was granted an absolute discharge by a Newfoundland and Labrador judge after his other convictions were overturned. This resulted in the offense only remaining on Joseph Burke's criminal record for a year. Some time later, he was rehired by Vancouver College.

The man behind the Vancouver College complaint is demanding accountability for the harm done to him in as a boy. He wants to understand how Joseph Burke was allowed to return to a teaching position at this institution after being convicted of a criminal offense for his actions at Mount Cashel.

Documents obtained by CBC News show that Joseph Burke was suspended with pay by Vancouver College in 2013 for detaining an eighth grade class after school and ordering them to kneel on the floor with his hands in the air for three or four minutes straight.

He retired shortly after have been suspended. His teaching license was eventually revoked for non-payment of fees.

In five affidavits, men say they were abused at the two British Columbia schools between 1976 and 2009. They talk about allegations of sexual and physical abuse by school teachers. One man described an atmosphere where abuse of boys was tolerated and expected, among staff full of men from Mount Cashel.

In a statement posted on its website, Vancouver College says the safety and well-being of [its] students is [its] number one priority and that it takes that responsibility and the trust that is in [it] given very seriously. The school adds that it has a comprehensive set of policies, protocols, screening processes and procedures in place to make the school a safe environment.

At one point the complaint also named the Archdiocese of St. John, which was held liable in 2021 for abuses at Mount Cashel, alleging that the Church of Newfoundland should take responsibility for sending the attackers to British Columbia.

This part of the lawsuit has, however, been put on hold, as the Archdiocese of Saint John is bankrupt and is currently selling church properties to pay Mount Cashel victims.

Based on information from Ryan Cooke

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