Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Abuse at Ontario Schools for the Deaf

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Abuse at Ontario Schools for the Deaf

Article excerpt

Lawsuit alleges abuse at schools for the deaf

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TORONTO - A Toronto man alleges he was abused for years at Ontario schools for the deaf and has launched a class action lawsuit on behalf of other former students against the provincial government.

The statement of claim, filed Monday in Ontario's Superior Court of Justice, alleges sexual, physical and mental abuse at four provincially run schools for the deaf over the course of decades.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Christopher Welsh, in his statment of claim, accuses the province of negligence in the establishment, funding, operation, management and supervision of schools in Ottawa, London, Belleville and Milton.

"Students have suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of teachers, residence counsellors, other students and employees of the schools," reads the statement of claim.

A spokesman for the province's Ministry of Education would not comment on the case as it is before the courts, but said the current government believes every child deserves high-quality education and a supportive learning environment.

"Over the years, we have been committed to ensuring students in our schools have access to the supports and resources they need to succeed," said Gary Wheeler.

"This includes our most vulnerable students."

Welsh went to two of the schools named in the class-action suit -- Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf in Milton, Ont., where he lived from the time he was five years old in 1964, followed by Robarts School for the Deaf in London, Ont., according to the claim.

He said he was forced to wear hearing aids and was repeatedly struck across his ears, leaving him bloodied and in pain.

Welsh's claim also alleges he was hit with rolled up magazines across his hands and beaten with a stick and belt by teachers as "a form of punishment" for using sign language instead of speech when conversing with other students.

He alleges teachers and counsellors often snuck up behind him, taking advantage of his hearing problems, and would grab him at the urinal and slam him into a wall or rip the chair out from under him as he was sat doing homework. …

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