Abused by St. John's hockey coach, man says
Well-known hockey figure denies allegations in civil action
An Ontario man says he was sexually assaulted by a well-known St. John's coach and hockey instructor who only months ago was cleared of unrelated sexual abuse allegations.
Chris Spencer, 46, launched a civil lawsuit against Rick Babstock, claiming that Babstock assaulted him at a hockey school when he was 11 years old.
"It was my first time away from home. I was very homesick," said Spencer, now a successful businessman in Elora, Ont., adding that he had had a conflict with his roommate at the school's dormitory.
"Rick picked up on that and sort of befriended me in a way that was, you know, more so than the pure coaching relationship. So he made arrangements for me to have a private room."
It was in that room that Spencer says Babstock, then 22, sexually assaulted him.
"He lied down on top of me," Spencer told CBC News. "He removed my pyjama bottoms, he removed his clothes, certainly his pants, and undid his shirt, and continued to go through the motions of having an intimate contact with me until he reached climax."
Assaults continued, man claims
Spencer said another, more violent assault happened on a second night. On the third night, he said, he stood up to Babstock.
"I won't swear the way I did, but it was something to the effect of, 'You get the F away from me. I'll keep screaming. You leave now,'" he said.
"And he said something back. 'You better be careful. Don't talk about this to anybody or you're going to be in deep trouble.'"
Spencer said the incident scarred him profoundly.
"I can tell you what I do know is it caused a lot of difficulty around personal relationships," said Spencer, who has battled alcoholism for 22 years.
"I felt I had trust issues with people. I became isolated, using drugs and alcohol extensively to feel comfortable with people. And to hold back a lot of hostility and anger..... I've been somebody who has always lived on the far edge of the fine line. Barely hanging on to lots of different things in my life — my family, my friends, my jobs."
Without finding of fault
CBC News cannot verify Spencer's story, but in 2005, an out-of-court settlement was reached without finding of fault. That means neither the hockey school nor the college nor Babstock admitted to doing anything wrong and there was no proof or finding that anything wrong happened.
As part of the settlement, Babstock and the schools gave Spencer money.
Spencer said he chose not to pursue criminal charges.
"You can go the civil route or you can go the criminal route," he said in the interview. "Prosecuting an historical case like this [might have meant] the outcome was, I think, less certain."
Simona Jellinek, Spencer's lawyer, said it does not matter that her client did not go the criminal route.
"Not at all. In most cases, criminal charges aren't laid," she said. "It's a very small percentage where criminal charges are laid. It's a small percentage of cases where people come forward and civil court cases happen."
Jellinek said that as the 2004 civil case progressed, she was encouraged by the response.
"There was a real understanding and I think a real appreciation that what my client was saying was truthful," she said.
Unrelated case not 'viable': Crown
Earlier this year, Babstock had been accused of gross indecency and indecent assault on another boy 40 years ago in Placentia, in southern Newfoundland.
The Crown dropped the charges in March because they were not "viable." The Crown would not explain any more than that.
CBC News contacted Rick Babstock about Spencer's allegation. Babstock had no comment.
But in his 2004 statement of defence against Spencer's statement of claim, Babstock said he was employed as an on-ice instructor at the hockey school and that he had no duties or responsibilities that dealt with the students' sleeping arrangements.
The statement of defence said Babstock did not go to Spencer's room, as alleged, and that he did not engage in any physical, sexual or psychological conduct with Spencer. As well, Babstock denied the conduct alleged in the suit ever took place.
With files from Glenn Payette