N.L. top court agrees DND not liable for 1970 sex abuse incident at CFB Greenwood

·1 min read
A former air cadet from Newfoundland — whose identity is subject to a court-ordered publication ban — sued the federal government over alleged sexual abuse at CFB Greenwood 50 years ago. John Doe spoke to CBC News about the case in 2016.  (CBC - image credit)
A former air cadet from Newfoundland — whose identity is subject to a court-ordered publication ban — sued the federal government over alleged sexual abuse at CFB Greenwood 50 years ago. John Doe spoke to CBC News about the case in 2016. (CBC - image credit)

Newfoundland and Labrador's top court has ruled that the federal government is not liable for sexual abuse suffered by a then-teenage cadet at CFB Greenwood five decades ago.

There is a court-ordered publication ban on the identity of the man who made the allegations, who is now in his 60s. He is called John Doe in court documents.

A decade ago, John Doe sued the Department of National Defence over what happened at cadet camp in Greenwood, N.S., in 1970.

In a decision issued two years ago, a Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court judge found that a 21-year-old training officer — called C.M. in court filings — abused the then-15-year-old John Doe while they were together in the barracks at the Nova Scotia military base.

The judge ruled that DND was not negligent or vicariously liable for what happened, noting that the incidents were only peripherally related to C.M.'s role as an instructor and the abuse was not linked to any enhanced opportunity or power relationship given to C.M. by the military.

Doe appealed the dismissal of his vicarious liability claim — basically, that one person is responsible for the misconduct of another because of the relationship between them.

But in a unanimous decision released this week, the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal dismissed John Doe's case.

"[The] decision that the connection was insufficient to warrant the imposition of vicarious liability on Canada has not been shown to be in error," Justice Lois Hoegg wrote in the top court's ruling.

Justice Derek Green and Justice Francis O'Brien concurred.

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