Church, School Officials Must Have Known of Rampant Evil, Judge Says

Article excerpt

Besides the somewhat dry legal discussions of vicarious liability and the relative responsibilities of the Anglican Church and the federal government in the victim's abuse, Justice Janice Dillon's 106-page decision also documents the horrific details of supervisor Derek Clarke's eight-year reign of terror.

First, Justice Dillon noted Mr. Clarke had no training in child care. Indeed, he had been employed as a child-care worker at another Anglican institution for less than a year when he was asked to leave because he was unqualified. The supervisor, however, arranged for him to work at St. George's.

Justice Dillon said the late John Snowden, who was bishop of Cariboo at the time, must have known of the abuse. She also believes the principal of St. George's Indian Residential School, Anthony Harding, also dead, deliberately covered up the abuse because he too abused boys. (Mr. Harding was found not guilty of such charges in a criminal trial about 10 years ago.)

The victim lived at St. George's in Lytton, B.C., from 1969 to 1976. He was nine years old in 1970 when dormitory supervisor, Mr. Clarke, began to sexually assault him. Dormitory supervisors oversaw all the boys' activities from the moment they awoke until bedtime, except for school instruction.

Mr. Clarke began his assaults by fondling the child under his blankets under the guise of "looking for things." All other assaults, including forced oral sex and sodomy, occurred in Mr. Clarke's room next to the dorm. Five other men testified before the judge that Mr. Clarke had assaulted them as well.

Mr. Clarke would line the boys up outside his room after bath in the evening and inspect each to see if he were clean. One of the boys was then taken to Mr. Clarke's room for the night.

The assaults began soon after Mr. Clarke came to St. George's in 1965, the judge found. The victims said they were assaulted two or three times a week each.

"Mr. Clarke told each boy not to tell anyone," the judge wrote. "He gave his favoured boys chocolates, pop, gum and weekend trips. When he took a boy away from the school for a weekend trip, sexual assault occurred in motel rooms. These trips required the permission of the principal."

The boys' behaviour revealed these secrets, however, Justice Dillon said. While the boys did not discuss with each other what happened, it was the known subject of ridicule, jokes, innuendo and nicknames. By this time, St. George's was no longer a school, just a residence.

A teacher at the school the boys attended, Lytton Elementary, noticed sexually inappropriate incidents in the playground and overheard the ridicule and jokes. She told the court she went to the school's principal, Joseph Chute, and demanded the boys be questioned. This led to Mr. Chute calling his friend, Mr. Harding, the residence principal, who in turn questioned the boys. The judge concluded Mr. Chute did not inform either the police or the Department of Indian Affairs of the abuse.

Mr. Harding asked Mr. Clarke to resign -- which he did -- leaving the residence in less than half an hour. Mr. Harding later wrote a letter of recommendation for Mr. Clarke, expressing appreciation for past services and expressing hope that his "personal problems" would be cleared up.

Mr. Harding wrote to the Department of Indian Affairs to inform them of Mr. Clarke's "resignation" but did not reveal the reason, although serious disciplinary matters with respect to staff were to be mentioned in reports to the department.

Based on hearsay evidence and testimony from the current bishop of Cariboo, Jim Cruickshank, the judge concluded the bishop of the day was very likely informed of the incidents. She noted that Bishop Cruickshank thought it "unimaginable" the bishop would not have been told, although the church argued in court that the question was unanswered. …