Ex-cadet's lawsuit against federal attorney general settled

The attorney general of Canada has settled out of court with a Saint John man who was sexually abused as a air cadet in the 1980s, but a second lawsuit is still slated to go to trial in Nova Scotia in December.

Saint John man's negligence suit over sex abuse at hands of officer settled out of court

A former Saint John air cadet's lawsuit against the federal government over sexual abuse he suffered in the 1980s has been settled out of court.

Lt. Edward O'Leary, who served as an adult officer with the 527 Simonds Squadron Air Cadets in Saint John, was convicted of sexual offences involving cadets in 1989. (Air Cadet League of New Brunswick)
Details about the settlement between the former cadet, known only as RJM, and the attorney general of Canada are confidential, including financial damages to be paid.

As is typical in out-of-court settlements, there is no formal acceptance of responsibility.

RJM, who is now in his 40s, was suing for unspecified financial damages for being sexually abused by Lt. Edward O'Leary, who served as an adult officer with the 527 Simonds Squadron Air Cadets in the 1980s.

​O'Leary was convicted in 1989 for "touching for a sexual purpose three persons … over whom he was in a position of trust or authority and sexually assaulting one unnamed young person."

Court records indicate O'Leary enticed cadets to come to his home to hang out, play Dungeons and Dragons and to sometimes stay overnight.

RJM, who was 16 years old at the time of the abuse, had alleged negligence by the attorney general for inadequate screening and supervision of O'Leary.

A second lawsuit involving another former Saint John cadet is still making its way through the courts in Nova Scotia, according to Halifax-based lawyer Ali Raja, who is representing both men.

The negligence suit against the attorney general of Canada was scheduled to be heard in Saint John court on July 16, but a confidential settlement was reached. (CBC)
A trial is scheduled for December, but Raja says the settlement may indicate a willingness on the part of the federal government to resolve the outstanding case as well.

The settlement with RJM comes after a failed attempt by lawyers for the attorney general's office to have the case dismissed.

They had argued in the Court of Queen's Bench that the assaults did not occur during "cadet time," but rather after hours at O'Leary's home.

But Justice Hugh McClellan rejected the motion to dismiss the case.

"After considering the principles that are summarized in those cases and the circumstances here, it seems to me that there are real issues for trial in this case," McLellan stated in his May decision. "In my view, there is some merit to the Plaintiff’s action and there is much more than what has been called the `germ' of a cause of action."

The matter was slated to go to trial on July 16, but the lawyers met before the court date and quietly reached a settlement.

In his statement of claim, RJM had argued his career and quality of life have been "detrimentally impacted by the long-term effects of this assault including psychological injury."

He was seeking general damages for loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering; general damages for loss of earning capacity; aggravated damages; punitive damages; legal costs and disbursement; prejudgment interest; and any other relief the court deemed appropriate.