Aug 18/98: Native men tell of rape at res school


Victoria Times-Colonist
August 18, 1998
Roger Stonebanks

[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.]

Nanaimo - A hushed BC Supreme Court heard a 44 year-old native man tell Monday of being raped by a dormitory supervisor at the Alberni Residential Shool when he was 10 years old. Dennis Thomas was testifying at the first day of the second phase of the lawsuit by two dozen former students. They're seeking compensation for sexual and physical abuse. In the first phase, the federal government and the United Church of Canada were found "vicariously liable" as the employer/operator of the school for the assaults. The second phase deals with direct liability and the issue of knowledge.

Thomas, slim, bespectacled, soft-spoken, who attended the school from 1961 to 1968, held more than 40 spectators hushed as he related the anal rape. He said he was woken by the man. Then, crying softly Thomas told the court: "He was kind of behind me. I had my pyjamas on. He took them off and I could feel him behind me. At first I did not know what was going on. I wanted to get away. But I couldn't. He was holding me and holding my mouth so I wouldn't make any sounds. He put something inside my mouth. I don't recall what it was. I knew there was something wrong. I just wanted to go home."

After the rape, "I wasn't getting good grades," Thomas testified. "I didn't want to go to school. I used to spend a lot of time in the infirmary at the residential school. "I didn't feel very good about myself." Thomas also said that Arthur Plint, another dormitory supervisor fondled him and made him perform mutual masturbation in a later incident. Plint, now 81, pleaded guilty in 1995 to dozens of assaults on native boys at the residential school. Plint was described by Justice Douglas Hogarth as a "sexual terrorist" and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Another witness, Harry Wilson, was also in tears as he testified that Plint abused him sexually from the age of nine or 10 until 13 about three times a week. The first time, "he took me in his room and pulled my pyjamas down and he raped me and not only that he took a plunger and shoved it up my bum." Wilson said he reported the sexual abuse in 1965 to principal John Andrews but, "He told me they'd ship me out if I told anyone else." He also said Andrews "got mad and threw me out of the office." The abuse did not stop, he said.

The case opened with Justice Donald Brenner urging the eight lawyers involved to "explore an alternative resolution of this dispute" to a continuing trial. Chris Hinkson, counsel for the United Church of Canada said there were discussions between the lawyers last week and there will be again.

Letters to Times-Colonist:

Back to SIS