Former Whitehorse student sues teacher, Gov't of Yukon, for alleged sexual abuse

Former Whitehorse student sues teacher, Gov't of Yukon, for alleged sexual abuse

A former Whitehorse student has filed a statement of claim against a former teacher and the Government of Yukon for sexual abuse she alleges started when he was her Grade 4 teacher. 

She alleges the abuse continued while she was in high school, and that the Government of Yukon did nothing to protect her or stop the abuse.

Desire Mitchell filed the statement of claim against her former teacher, Paul Deuling, and the Government of Yukon, in the Supreme Court of Yukon on March 1.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Documents allege abuse

In court documents, Mitchell alleges the abuse started at Jack Hulland Elementary School in the 1978-79 school year with "inappropriate touching and grooming for further sexual abuse" and "carried on to an incident of rape in the summer of 1986" when Mitchell was a student at F.H. Collins Secondary School.

She alleges the abuse continued after that when Deuling, "abusing and exploiting" his authority as a teacher, forced Mitchell "into ongoing sexual exploitation involving multiple incidents of sexual intercourse."

Mitchell says she was a student during the course of the alleged abuse. She now lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

She says "at no time was the sexual abuse of any element of it a consensual sexual relationship."

The lawsuit states Deuling was an employee of the Government of Yukon during the alleged abuse, therefore the Government of Yukon is "vicariously liable for the sexual abuse."

Court documents state the Government of Yukon had a duty of care while Mitchell was a student to protect her from sexual abuse.

It says Mitchell was sexually assaulted by Deuling because the Government of Yukon breached its duty of care.

Lawsuit says government should have been aware

The lawsuit says employees of the Departments of Education and Health and Social Services were aware of or should have been aware of Deuling's alleged "sexual predation activities" or that he was allegedly "in an ongoing and inappropriate situation or relationship" with Mitchell.

It goes on to say staff at the Departments of Education and Health and Social Services breached that duty of care by "failing to take any steps ... to intervene and protect Mitchell" and by "taking steps to assist and protect" Deuling and "his position and reputation" rather than Mitchell.

Mitchell says she suffered from the alleged abuse and continues to suffer "physical, mental, emotional and spiritual injuries, loss of enjoyment and quality of life."

Mitchell says she has experienced pain and suffering including "physical injuries as a result of the sexual abuse, serious emotional and psychiatric impacts and loss of self-esteem."

She says she has had "difficulty forming healthy emotional relationships and attachments and delayed completion of educational program and entry into gainful employment."

In the lawsuit, Mitchell says she has lost income and earning capacity.

She is suing Deuling and the Government of Yukon for general, special and punitive, exemplary and aggravated damages.

Deuling is listed as a resident of Haines, Alaska.

It is not clear whether Deuling has been served with the lawsuit yet.

Dan Cable, a spokesperson for Yukon's Department of Justice, says the government was served on March 5, and the allegations in the claim are still being reviewed.

He says the matter is before the courts, and government will not be commenting further.