Sask. gov't, care home must be held accountable for years of sexual abuse: victim's brother

Rick, left, and Darryl Boguski.  (Kimberly Ivany/CBC - image credit)
Rick, left, and Darryl Boguski. (Kimberly Ivany/CBC - image credit)

Rick Boguski is demanding answers and restitution on behalf of his brother, Darryl, who was sexually abused for years in a Saskatchewan group home for adults living with severe disabilities.

Darryl, 62, requires one-on-one care, as he is blind and has cerebral palsy, autism and severe epilepsy.

Last year, Brent Gabona — a man who was responsible for Darryl's care — was arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a person with a disability. Gabona's five victims, including Darryl, were residents at the Shepherds Villa care home in Hepburn, Sask., and the crimes span a 17-year period.

Gabona pleaded guilty last week — appearing in court by telephone.

Rick has little faith that the criminal justice system will provide the accountability he needs, so after Gabona's hearing Rick and Darryl went to the Court of King's Bench in Saskatoon to file a civil lawsuit.

"Without a trial, there are no answers to our many, many questions," Rick said.

"Daryl led a torturous life, and amazingly has a strong will to live in spite of everything that he endured, and so I owe it to Darryl — the defendants owe it to Darryl to provide some sort of accountability and restitution."

The defendants include Gabona, his mother — who supervised staff at the group home — the Saskatchewan government and the government-funded care home.

Rich said his brother has extensive psychological damage after suffering years of horrific sexual abuse.

Before Darryl moved to Shepherd's Villa, he lived at Valley View Centre in Moose Jaw. Rick said his brother seemed calm and happy there, even though it was a large institutional setting.

But Darryl was moved to Shepherd's Villa in 1990. The community was closer to Darryl's parents, who lived in Saskatoon, and described as a facility that had trained staff caring for a maximum of six residents.

Gabona worked at the facility from 1992 to 2009. The claim says that Darryl was utterly dependent on him and other staff.

Rick says Gabona violently sexually assaulted and abused Darryl for years and concealed the abuse.

The lawsuit says Darryl's behaviour deteriorated while he was at Shepherd's Villa, and that as this was happening staff limited Darryl's contact with his own family.

When Darryl first moved into the facility, he had been visiting his parents every weekend and during holidays. However, staff allegedly said going home so often was "too upsetting" for Darryl and limited his visits to once a month, according to the lawsuit.

Darryl was eventually discharged from Shepherd's Villa in 2015  for "unmanageable" behaviour, years before Gabona would admit to repeatedly assaulting him.

Warning signs ignored 

The lawsuit's statement of claim says the Saskatchewan government was responsible for Darryl's care and safety while he lived at the group home, and for supervising and reviewing his programming.

Rick says the government failed to make sure group home staff were properly trained, that it didn't prevent abuse and failed to intervene or properly address warning signs of abuse.

The claim says Darryl had many documented physical injuries — and the nature and location of the injuries should have been red flags for abuse.

"The standard of care required of the Province in this role was egregiously breached," the claim reads. It also states that the ministry's lack of action resulted "in a complete failure or collapse of any meaningful oversight of the operation."

The claim also alleges that Gabona's mother — his workplace supervisor — and the care home did not properly investigate Darryl's behavioural changes or his injuries, and didn't elevate concerns about Gabona to the proper authorities. 

No compensation would be enough: brother

Rick says no dollar amount could ever make up for what Darryl endured, but that he deserves compensation from all the defendants.

"If anyone deserves any little bit of support and comfort at this point, it's Darryl, because right now Darryl exists on no support services, no therapy."

The Ministry of Social Services declined CBC's request for an interview, saying the matter "is before the courts" and citing privacy concerns of clients.

It released a statement on behalf of Bob Martinook, executive director of the ministry's Community Living Service Delivery, which oversees contracts with group homes, saying the ministry contacts "autonomous organizations" to run group homes.

"Under these contracts, organizations must ensure the safety, rights and respectful treatment of the individuals they support. We have a zero tolerance for abuse, requiring service providers to report all serious incidents."

Martinook said the ministry "immediately" responds to allegations of abuse.

Rick is frustrated that the government and the care home have not answered to the abuse that occurred for nearly two decades at Shepherd's Villa.

"The civil claim is our only recourse. I hope that people pay attention to this case, because this is happening in communities all across this country," he said.

"I think that what we need is a thorough examination of what's happening in group homes and other care facilities, because this is not an isolated incident."