If you or your child has been a victim of sexual abuse by a Boy Scout or Cub Scout Leader (or by any other authority figure in Nova Scotia), you can schedule a consultation, at no charge, to discuss your case, your concerns, and find out about your legal rights with a Halifax sexual abuse lawyer.
One of the most common questions we get asked is: “Is there a deadline for victims of Boy Scout sexual abuse in Nova Scotia to take legal action against Scouts Canada?” Other frequent questions are: “What are my rights and options as a survivor of sexual abuse? What is the best way to proceed legally with an abuse claim against a Scout Leader or Cub Leader?”
If you will keep reading, these questions will be answered, but if you have personally suffered sexual abuse by a Scout or Cub Leader in Nova Scotia, you should also schedule a complimentary, no-charge, legal consultation to speak with a Nova Scotia sexual abuse lawyer.
How Common and Widespread is Sexual Abuse by Scout Leaders?
While it is difficult to get precise data, there can be no question that in the 21st century, the number of abuse lawsuits filed against Scout Leaders in North America and particularly in Canada has greatly increased.
In the United States, over 92,000 sexual abuse claims were filed as a result of Boy Scouts of America (BSA) bankruptcy in November 2020. This number doesn’t include all the claims that BSA had settled before it filed bankruptcy. Since the incidence of sexual abuse as a percentage of the population is about the same in Canada and the United States, the available data suggests that there are likely thousands of survivors of sexual abuse by Scouts Leaders in Canada.
Across Canada, the evidence in a number of criminal cases that have named Scout Leaders as defendants has indicated that sexual abuse by Scout Leaders has been far more common and widespread in this nation – for decades – than many previously believed.
For example, in 2021 a long time Boy Scouts Canada (BSC) employee, who used to be a BSC spokesperson for their sexual abuse protection policies, was criminally charged with buggery, sexual assault, and indecent assault.
In Nova Scotia in 2012 Donald George Schweyer was criminal charged with sexual offences alleged to have been committed when he was a Scout Leader. Schweyer committed suicide before the charges came to trial.
As recently as April 2022 former Scout Leader Gerald Authur Conrad pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a boy in 1975.
Scouts Canada has come under fire for their failure to report allegations of sexual abuse by Scouts Leaders to the police.
Sexual Abuse Outside Scouts Canada
Scouts Canada has no monopoly on sexual abuse claims in Canada. Sexual abuse claims in the Catholic Church have been well documented stemming back to the 1960’s. McKiggan Hebert has successfully certified class actions on behalf of survivors who were sexually abuse by priests employed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Yarmouth and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax. Wayne John Hankey was a former Anglican priest and a professor emeritus at Dalhousie University in 2021 when he agreed to step down in light of sexual abuse accusations against him going back to the 1970s.
Studies compiled by the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence indicate that up to fifteen percent of clergy members in all religious groups have engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct, but few statistics are available, and the data churches collect is often kept secret.
If you were sexually abused by a priest or by a Scout Leader or a religious authority figure years or decades ago, can you still take legal action, or has the deadline passed? Is there a statute of limitations in Nova Scotia for bringing a sexual abuse lawsuit against a Boy Scout Leader?
What is the Deadline for Filing a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
In 2015, Nova Scotia abolished the statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits. There is now no deadline anywhere in Canada for bringing criminal sexual assault charges or for filing a sexual abuse compensation lawsuit against Scouts Canada, a priest or any other abuser.
Boy Scout sexual abuse survivors now have the time they need to take effective legal action against the organization that placed the Leaders in a position of power and authority and allowed the sexual abuse to persist. If you are a Boy Scout sexual abuse survivor in Nova Scotia, you have several legal options including criminal charges or a civil compensation claim.
Criminal charges: You may contact your local police and ask them to investigate your sexual abuse claim. If the police find evidence that supports your claim, the Crown Attorney’s office may consider filing criminal charges against the Scout Leader that abused you.
To win a criminal conviction, the sexual abuse charge must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. After years or decades have passed, it may be difficult to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and the Crown Attorney’s office may even decline to file charges.
It is also important to understand that criminal charges don’t deal with the harm that abuse survivors have suffered and the criminal courts don’t have the ability to award compensation to Scout abuse survivors.
What Does a Civil Scout Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Entail?
A Scout sexual abuse survivor’s alternative to a criminal prosecution in Nova Scotia is to file a civil sexual abuse lawsuit against the abuser and/or Boy Scouts Canada. Civil lawsuits are easier to win than criminal prosecutions, because the burden of proof in civil claims is much lower than in criminal prosecutions.
In a civil sexual abuse compensation claim, you do not have to prove your claim beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, you and your lawyer must successfully make the case that it is “more likely than not” that the sexual abuse happened and that the defendant in the lawsuit is therefore liable for damages.
Sexual abuse lawyers in Nova Scotia work on a contingent fee basis, so when you bring a civil lawsuit, you pay no lawyer’s fee unless and until your lawyer recovers your compensation. If for any reason you are not compensated at the end of the process, you pay no fee to your lawyer.
Has Your Child Been Sexually Abused by a Scout Leader?
If you learn that your child has been abused by a Scout Leader, you should know that healing after childhood sexual abuse takes time. Emotional injuries affect almost every sexual abuse survivor’s mental health and personal relationships for years to come.
Parents will need healing too. After the disclosure of a child’s sexual abuse, a parent should meet with a counselor who can help both the parent and child work through their feelings and sort through the issues and challenges they both face.
Sexual crimes against children must never be tolerated, but if years or decades have passed, a lawsuit against the abuser for monetary compensation in civil court may be more practical to pursue and may be easier to win than a criminal prosecution.
What Else Should You Know About Scout Sexual Abuse?
The criminal conviction of an abuser does not provide monetary compensation that a survivor may need for counseling and treatment expenses, but a civil lawsuit can do that. It does not cost anything to find out more and to have a lawyer evaluate your Scout abuse case.
In Nova Scotia, if you have survived sexual abuse by a Scout Leader, or if you are the parent of a Scout sexual abuse victim, a Halifax sexual abuse lawyer will fight to hold the abuser and Scouts Canada accountable and to win the compensation and the justice you need.
Reach out to schedule your free case review, which is provided at no charge, to the survivors of sexual abuse without any cost or obligation. It’s your chance to learn more about how the law applies to your own case and to learn what a Nova Scotia sexual abuse lawyer can do on your behalf.