Montreal

Alleged sexual assault victims come forward in case against city of Westmount

CBC News has learned that more alleged sexual assault victims have come forward in a request to launch a class-action lawsuit against the city of Westmount.

Proposed lawsuit alleges city turned a blind eye to superintendent’s behaviour

John Garland, named in a proposed class-action lawsuit, worked for the Westmount's parks and recreation department and coached peewee hockey for more than 30 years. (CBC)

CBC News has learned that more alleged sexual assault victims have come forward in a request to launch a class-action lawsuit against the city of Westmount.

Last week, a Hollywood film director and other former Montrealers launched the suit alleging the city turned a blind eye to abuse by one of its hockey coaches.

The request to launch a class-action lawsuit was filed by Matthew Bissonette in Quebec Superior Court last Friday.

Bissonette, 49, claims that the city of Westmount allowed a man — identified in court documents as John Garland — to regularly and consistently maintain unusual and inappropriately close relationships with boys he supervised.

Garland served as superintendent of Westmount's parks and recreation department and also coached peewee hockey for 34 years. He died three years ago.

Bissonette's lawyer Annabel Busbridge, said several other men have asked to join the class-action suit.

"These people are quite unrelated to each other in many ways in terms of time, period, participation in the programs," Busbridge said, adding that the latest alleged victims who have come forward will help build a case against Westmount.

"It tells us that what we allege in our motion is true. We have the burden of proof, and we will meet it."

Busbridge, who hopes other alleged victims come forward, said she is presenting a motion to keep the names of victims confidential before and after any judgement.

The lawsuit is seeking $100,000 in moral damages and $25,000 in punitive damages for each plaintiff.

A judgement in the request to file the class-action lawsuit is expected sometime in the next 12 months.

Corrections

  • In a previous version of this story, lawyer Annabel Busbridge was quoted as saying the names of victims will be confidential until a judgement is rendered. In fact, Busbridge says she intends to present a motion to have victims' names remain confidential before and after any judgement.
    Jun 11, 2015 3:25 PM ET

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