British Columbia Ordered to Pay $605,000 in Damages to Victim of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, ordering the Government of BC to pay a Plaintiff $605,000 in damages as a result of childhood sexual abuse.
In today’s case (D.K.B. v. British Columbia) the Plaintiff was sexually abused by his hockey coach when he was 13 years old. The abuse occurred in 1988. The hockey coach was a convicted sex offender and his probation officer failed to warn the minor hockey association of this fact. In 2005 the Province of BC was found vicariously liable for the sexual abuse. Today’s case focused on damages.
The details of the abuse are set out in paragraphs 5-10 of today’s judgement. The Plaintiff suffered harm as a result of this abuse. Dr. O’Shaughnessy testified about the extent of the harm and his opinion was accepted by the Court. Specifically Dr. O’Shaughnessy provided the following opinion:
Ultimately, however, I am impressed that given the nature of the sexual assaults and in particular at the critical developmental point that more likely than not the sexual assaults were a material factor in the development of his Mood Disorder and his substance abuse as well as his Personality Disorder. While indeed he may have gone on to develop problems with substance abuse in any event, I think the sexual abuse was a critical factor and more likely than not he would not have gone on to develop these difficulties had the sexual assaults not occurred
The Plaintiff went on to have a career in professional hockey and subsequently as a realtor. He testified that this was impacted by the consequneces of the abuse. Mr. Justice Dley agreed and awarded just over $450,000 for the impact the abuse had on the Plaintiff’s earning capacity.
The balance of the claim was made up largely of non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life). The parties settled this head of damage at $125,000. Since this aspect of the case was privately settled today’s judgement is not, strictly speaking, a binding precedent on the issue, however, given the relative lack of reported cases dealing with non-pecuniary damages for sexual abuse in British Columbia I thought it would be useful to add today’s case to this site’s civil sex abuse claims database.