The national president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters says the organization will take a closer look at a recent case of alleged sexual abuse to see if changes should be made to its screening policies.
“We take our screening, interviewing, matching and monitoring practices very seriously,” Bruce MacDonald noted in an e-mail to CBC News.
“We regularly review our national service delivery standards and changes are made at our annual general meeting each year. We will be looking at the facts of this case and asking questions about how we could improve the safety and effectiveness of our standards.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters is “saddened by this unfortunate situation,” MacDonald wrote.
“As an organization that seeks to do good for children and young people it is incredibly difficult to witness the pain of a young person and their family when situations like these arise.”
'We will be looking at the facts of this case and asking questions about how we could improve the safety and effectiveness of our standards.' - Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO Bruce MacDonald
Last month, a Big Brothers mentor in eastern Newfoundland was charged with five sex-related offences, including sexual assault and touching a person under the age of 16 with a sexual purpose.
There are two alleged victims, according to a document outlining the charges filed at provincial court by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.
One of the alleged victims is the boy who was mentored for years by the Big Brother.
The mentor in question has a prior 2006 conviction for fraud under $5,000.
Fraud is not a criminal offence that automatically disqualifies someone from being a Big Brothers volunteer.
Civil suit filed against group, volunteer
CBC News has learned that the mother of the alleged victim has filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of her son.
Both the former mentor now charged with sexual assault and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Newfoundland are named as defendants.
The civil action seeks damages for her son's severe mental and emotional distress and anxiety.
The lawsuit accuses Big Brothers of negligence in the screening and selection process.
Those claims have not been proven in court.
MacDonald confirmed that Big Brothers Big Sisters has been served with the statement of claim.
"As per our procedures, we will now engage with our insurance company who will respond to the claim and dialogue with the lawyers representing the former Little Brother,” he told CBC News.