Family of teen sex abuse victim files suit against her abuser, arts leaders and organizations

·3 min read

The family of the teenage victim of convicted sex offender Aaron Crane, 37, has launched a lawsuit against him, two Island arts organizations and two of their executive members.

The lawsuit, filed in P.E.I. Supreme Court, seeks $1.5 million from Crane, the P.E.I. Arts Guild, Anne and Gilbert Inc., Campbell Webster and Alanna Jankov.

Jankov is chief executive officer of the P.E.I. Arts Guild. Webster is identified in the lawsuit as executive producer of the musical production Anne and Gilbert, which is staged in the Guild facility in Charlottetown.

On. Jan. 5, Crane was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual interference of a girl who was under 16 at the time of the abuse. Crane was a musician, music instructor and actor.

The 15-page lawsuit alleges that "specific complaints about Crane's inappropriate sexual behaviour and grooming of female children" in connection with arts activities in the facility were raised a few years before the girl was victimized, and that no action was taken against Crane.

The suit also alleges that Crane's grooming of the girl for a sexual purpose "intensified in plain view of all" and that people were using the word "pedophile" to describe his actions. The suit claims concerns were reported to Webster and Jankov and that they should have known Crane "was refusing to comply with the boundaries that had been set up to keep him apart from [the girl]" and that Crane's inappropriate behaviour continued and escalated.

The suit goes on to allege that the defendants in the claim should have notified the girl's family, police or Child Protection Services when they first became aware of the concerns, but did not.

Crane was eventually forced to resign from his job. The lawsuit alleges that the girl's parents were informed at that time about the concerns, and also told at that time that Crane had been involved in inappropriate sexual behaviour with "another female child" several years earlier.

Defendant says will dispute claim

The arts organizations named in the suit did take action in response to concerns over Crane, according to agreed facts presented in court during Crane's criminal proceedings.

Crane was "confronted and warned to desist from this behaviour on a numbers [sic] of occasions or he would face termination," according to the agreed facts.

The girl's parents were informed that Crane had been confronted and warned, because staff were "concerned that it was a case of grooming but no one had any proof," according to the agreed statement of facts.

The victim cannot be identified by court order. That prevents publication of details of the case that would tend to identify her.

According to facts presented at the criminal trial, Crane first met the girl when she was a preteen and he gave her private music lessons. Crane had a habit of hugging the girl at the conclusion of her lessons, the court heard, and his touching escalated to sexual intercourse a few years after he met her.

The allegations contained in the lawsuit have not been proven in court. In an emailed statement, Webster told CBC News that he would not be making any public statement on the allegations due to the publication ban connected to the victim. He said he intends to file a statement of defence and "we are confident in the ability of the courts to make a fair decision on this matter, based on evidence."

CBC contacted Jankov but has not yet received a response.

The girl and her family are seeking trial by jury.

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