Apr 17/98: Lawyer - "Church is in denial"


Victoria Times Colonist
April 17, 1998, p. A8
Canadian Press

[S.I.S.I.S. note: The following mainstream news article may contain biased or distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context. It is provided for reference only.]

Prince Rupert - Decision was reserved Thursday after final arguments ended at the first Canadian civil suit over native residential school abuse. Justice Donald Brenner is expected to give his decision in BC Supreme Court by the end of June. About two dozen people are suing the United Church of Canada and the Indian Affairs Department for sexual and physical abuse they suffered for years while students at the Alberni Indian residential school.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs expressed shock Thursday that arguments by the church amounted to an effort to undermine the natives' credibility. "I am extremely concerned about the argument...presented," said Peter Grant. "You've heard denial with a capital D." The church has denied any role in hiring Arthur Henry Plint, a dormitory supervisor who committed the assaults, or that it had any management authority at the school. It also denied it employed the principals who hired Plint. Brenner ruled Thursday the principals had authority over Plint, who was convicted in 1995 on multiple counts of physical and sexual abuse. The judge who sentenced Plint, now 80, to 11 years in prison called him a sexual terrorist.

Church lawyer Christopher Hinkson also argued the United Church had no say in financing the school or looking after the children. "If this defendant was an individual, this client would need counselling in a big way," Grant said. Indian Affairs is not denying it is liable for the children's welfare, but government lawyer Mitch Taylor argued the church alone is liable for Plint's assaults. Grant urged Brenner to find the church and government equally liable.

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