Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sexual, Physical Abuse 'Rampant' at Ontario Training Schools, Suit Alleges

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sexual, Physical Abuse 'Rampant' at Ontario Training Schools, Suit Alleges

Article excerpt

Sex abuse 'rampant' at Ontario training schools

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TORONTO - A man who says he was badly abused at one of Ontario's now-defunct training schools is spearheading a proposed class-action against the province that seeks $600 million on behalf of other children and youth sent to the provincial facilities.

In his unproven statement of claim, Kirk Keeping, 64, alleges the schools were festering cesspools of sexual, physical and psychological abuse perpetrated by unsupervised and unqualified staff on hapless kids.

"The training schools contained a toxic environment in which degrading and humiliating treatment of children in the Crown's care was the norm," the claim states. "Physical, sexual and psychological abuse was rampant, and residents of training schools were systematically denied their dignity and basic human rights."

The provincial training schools for boys and girls aged eight to 16 operated between 1931 until they were finally shut down in 1984. Those sentenced to the facilities were children found begging on the streets, runaways, truants, those deemed "incorrigible," those convicted of petty offences, or those who, for various reasons, had inadequate adult supervision. Once there, they became wards of the Crown and were cut off from any family support.

While the idea was to provide support, correction and vocational training for troubled youth, the claim alleges the reality was far more sinister -- one of "fear intimidation and brutality."

Staff forced children to beat up on other children or meted out physical punishment themselves. Youth were thrown into solitary confinement in shackles, not allowed to go to the washroom, were forced to scrub floors with toothbrushes or sleep on floors, and were forced into sexual acts, according to the claim.

Attempting to report the abuse would lead to retaliation in the form of longer sentences, the claim alleges.

Keeping, of Thunder Bay, Ont., was an unmanageable runaway when a judge in 1968 sent the 15 year old to Pine Ridge in Bouwmanville. During his two years there, he was sexually abused by a woman in the kitchen where he was given work and later, on a dairy farm, he says, by a man. …

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