Class-action lawsuit against province for sexual abuse in youth homes certified
'Many children were subjected to unspeakable cruelty,' says lawyer Lynn Moore
A class-action lawsuit against the provincial government, brought by former residents of the Newfoundland Training Schools, was certified Friday at the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.
In it, the three representative plaintiffs allege they were sexually abused as children or youths in the government-run Girls' and Boys' homes in Whitbourne, Pleasantville and St. John's.
"We are very pleased that this case was certified as a class action. Many children were subjected to unspeakable cruelty in institutions that were supposed to protect and educate them," said lawyer Lynn Moore, acting for the plaintiffs, in a news release Friday afternoon.
Moore said the provincial government consented to her application for class-action certification. That certification is a "major procedural hurdle," she said.
"While we can never undo the harm or take away the pain, we are one step closer to getting compensation for these people," said Moore, roughly two years after starting the class-action process.
The sexual abuses were committed by employees, priests and sometimes older children, according to Moore, and included molestation, beatings while naked, and rape.
She said the next step in the lawsuit is noticing — or getting the message about the case to people who were in the training schools.
Once the notice period is up, the case will move to a trial or settlement.
In 2017, when Moore announced her firm would be pursuing the class action, 15 people had come forward in addition to the four representative plaintiffs involved at the time.
Moore said government was aware of the abuses inside the institutions prior to 1955, but did nothing.