Second lawsuit filed over alleged sexual abuse at Whitehorse's Hidden Valley Elementary School

·3 min read
The Yukon courthouse in Whitehorse. A child and parents have filed a statement of claim to the Yukon Supreme Court alleging that the child was sexually abused by former Hidden Valley educational assistant William Auclair-Bellemare, and that the government and RCMP failed to act to prevent or stop it. (Paul Tukker/CBC - image credit)
The Yukon courthouse in Whitehorse. A child and parents have filed a statement of claim to the Yukon Supreme Court alleging that the child was sexually abused by former Hidden Valley educational assistant William Auclair-Bellemare, and that the government and RCMP failed to act to prevent or stop it. (Paul Tukker/CBC - image credit)

A second lawsuit has been filed over alleged sexual abuse at Whitehorse's Hidden Valley Elementary School.

Two parents filed a statement of claim on behalf of their child, as well as themselves, to the Yukon Supreme Court on Oct. 1, naming former Hidden Valley educational assistant William Auclair-Bellemare, the Yukon government and the attorney general of Canada as defendants.

The lawsuit alleges the child suffered "predation" and sexual assault at the hands of Auclair-Bellemare, and that the government as well as the RCMP failed to both prevent and stop the abuse.

The child's name is protected by a publication ban. The CBC is not naming the parents in order to respect that ban.

No statements of defence had been filed as of the morning of Oct. 15. The lawsuit has not yet been tested at trial.

Yukon justice department spokesperson Patricia Randell told the CBC in an email Oct. 5 that the department was unable to offer comment as the matter is "before the courts."

The lawsuit comes about two-and-a-half months after another child, via their guardian, filed a statement of claim against Auclair-Bellemare and the Yukon government over the sexual abuse the child suffered while in Auclair-Bellemare's care at Hidden Valley in 2019.

Auclair-Bellemare was arrested and later convicted for sexual interference in that case. Education officials never informed parents about the situation, which came to light after the CBC reported on the lawsuit in July. Two additional alleged victims have since been identified.

There are no current criminal proceedings associated with the Oct. 1 lawsuit.

'Flagrant and outrageous conduct'

The Oct. 1 statement of claim alleges that Auclair-Bellemare sexually abused the child during the 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years, causing "severe and lasting" physical, psychological and emotional injuries to all three plaintiffs.

The lawsuit accuses Auclair-Bellemare of "flagrant and outrageous conduct," and of abusing his position of trust and authority as an educational assistant to take advantage of a vulnerable minor.

Meanwhile, the Yukon government is alleged to have failed on a number of issues, including to "promote the best interests of the children at Hidden Valley School," to ensure the child's safety and dignity and to investigate "past incidents" and "complaints" against Auclair-Bellemare.

The statement of claim accuses the government of choosing to "assistant and protect" Auclair-Bellemare's "position and reputation" instead of protecting the plaintiffs, failing to properly train and educate staff on how to prevent, spot, report and stop sexual abuse and failing to inform parents about the criminal proceedings against Auclair-Bellemare, among other things.

The lawsuit also alleges failures on the part of the RCMP, including "failing to take any reasonable steps to investigate" prior incidents, complaints and predation involving Auclair-Bellemare, enabling him to abuse the child.

"As a result of Yukon's and the RCMP's failure to inform the students and parents of students at Hidden Valley school of the Past Incidents, Complaints and Predation, and their failures to investigate … Yukon and the RCMP subjected children at Hidden Valley School, such as and including [the child], to a real risk of the Predation and Sexual Abuse, which then occurred," the statement of claim reads.

"... Yukon and the RCMP exercised their discretion in a negligent manner and contrary to the principles of fundamental justice."

That alleged failure and negligence, the statement of claim continues, amounts to a breach of the child's Charter right to security of person. It also alleges the "actions and omissions" of Auclair-Bellemare, the Yukon government and the RCMP "were morally reprehensible, and unacceptable to right or reasonable-thinking individuals."

The lawsuit is seeking a number of damages from all three defendants for "physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual injuries, loss of trust, loss of enjoyment and quality of life, and pain and suffering" allegedly caused to the child and parents, as well as legal costs.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting