Oct 19/98: School abuse lawsuit resumes


Victoria Times Colonist
October 19, 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.]

The long-running civil trial for compensation for sexual and physical abuse of children at the Alberni Indian Residential School restarts today in BC Supreme Court in Nanaimo. But it will be missing former school principal John Andrews who wanted to testify again that he knew nothing about the abuse when he was head of the school. Andrews died last month in Port Alberni of a massive heart attack. He was 82. Last February, he testified that he knew nothing about the abuse. But several subsequent witnesses said he did, including Arthur Henry Plint, 80, a former school dormitory supervisor.

Plint was sentenced in 1995 to 11 years in the penitentiary after pleading guilty to numerous sexual assaults on boys. Justice Douglas Hogarth called him a "sexual terrorist". The civil suit was launched after the conclusion of the criminal base which stemmed from a major investigation by the RCMP. Plint testified last August that he yelled out "(expletive) liar" when he saw Andrews on television saying the first time he knew about the abuse was when charges were laid. Plint said he was fired by Andrews in 1968 but didn't know why. Andrews said Plint was fired for breaking a rule by having boys in his room. Plint then moved to Victoria.

Nearly 30 former students at the school, which closed in 1972, are suing the federal government and the United Church of Canada for compensation for sexual assaults. Chris Hinkson, counsel for the United Church, said Saturday it is "hard to say" how the absence of Andrews will affect the case. "I'm not sure anything will really change," he said, noting that Andrews had already testified that he knew nothing about the abuse when he was principal. Andrews was present as a spectator when the trial continued last August but he died Sept. 25. He wanted to testify again to contradict what subsequent witnesses said of his knowledge of abuse at the school at the time.

The trial, meanwhile, will continue over the next two weeks. It will then adjourn until April-May for another three weeks. The trial has been divided into three parts. In the first stage, Justice Donald Brenner held the federal government and United Church vicariously liable as employer/operator of the school for Plint's actions. The second stage is dealing with direct liability and specific knowledge. The third stage is assessment of damages which Brenner has estimated will take 20 weeks starting in September 1999. Brenner has urged the parties to continue out-of-court settlement discussions. However, there has been no progress towards a settlement. Hinkson said the plaintiffs have not specified settlement amounts. "It is hard to negotiate in a vacuum," he said.

Letters to Times-Colonist: jknox@victoriatimescolonist.com


"Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
a) Killing members of the group;

b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its destruction, in whole or in part;

d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

- Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948

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