Nfld. & Labrador

Burnaby RCMP open sexual assault investigation into notorious Christian Brother

Police in Burnaby, B.C., say a man came forward with allegations of sexual abuse against a teacher at a Catholic school between 1978 and 1982. Sources confirm the teacher is Edward English.

Edward English moved from N.L. to B.C. after abusing boys at St. John's orphanage

Edward English confessed to police in St. John's in 1975 about abusing boys at Mount Cashel Orphanage. It was covered up by justice officials, and English was allowed to leave the province. He's now accused of the same acts in British Columbia in 1981. (CBC)

Edward English — a Christian Brothers teacher who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for beating and sexually assaulting boys at the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John's — is the subject of a new police investigation in British Columbia.

Burnaby RCMP have confirmed a complaint was lodged on Aug. 25, and relates to allegations of abuse at a Catholic private school between 1978 and 1982.

While the force would not identify the subject of the investigation, a source with knowledge of the complaint confirmed English, now 74, is the teacher in question.

"I have no idea what you are talking about," English said when contacted by a CBC reporter on Wednesday. "I'm not going to comment on something if I don't know anything about it."

The reporter offered to walk him through the allegations, but he declined, saying "no comment," before hanging up.

A source identified the complainant as a man who is part of a proposed class-action lawsuit in British Columbia. The lawsuit alleges a pair of Catholic private schools and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver allowed six known child abusers to move from St. John's to the Vancouver area, where they continued preying on children.

In a sworn affidavit in the proposed class-action lawsuit, the man — known only as John A. Doe — said English repeatedly molested him during his time as a student at St. Thomas More Collegiate, a Grade 8-12 school in Burnaby, just outside Vancouver.

"The abuse I suffered as a boy has had a profound effect on my faith, my health and my personal relationships," the man wrote. "I have told my immediate family about it but I have not shared it with others who are close to me, my employer or my work colleagues. I have not reached and may never reach the point where I am prepared to share my identity with the general public."

The allegations set forth in his affidavit have yet to be tested in court.

English moved as part of infamous coverup

Edward English became a household name in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1989, when news broke about what had really been happening at the Mount Cashel Orphanage for decades.

A judicial inquiry revealed that two boys accused English of abusing them in 1975, and that English had even confessed to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

The biggest bombshell of the inquiry, however, was that a deal had been struck between the Christian Brothers organization, the police and the Newfoundland and Labrador Justice Department. English and five other brothers accused of abusing children were quietly moved out of the province around 1975, and no charges were laid.

In 2021, the Archdiocese of St. John's was found liable for decades of abuse at Mount Cashel, pictured here in 1996, and had to declare bankruptcy and sell churches as a result. (CBC)

The Christian Brothers also owned a K-12 school, Vancouver College and St. Thomas More Collegiate. All six brothers landed at those two schools.

By the time the revelations came to light, English and the others had been teaching in British Columbia for more than a decade.

John A. Doe now wants to know how that was allowed to happen.

"I seek accountability for the harm that was done to me by Brother English," he wrote. "Specifically, I want to know how it is that he was allowed to teach at St. Thomas More after having admitted to sexually abusing boys at Mount Cashel."

English investigated in B.C. before

Criminal charges were laid in Newfoundland and Labrador after the Hughes Inquiry. All six of the brothers moved to B.C. were eventually convicted on varying charges of abuse.

But none were ever charged with crimes stemming from their time in B.C., despite allegations now coming to light that their abusive behaviours continued after the coverup was finalized.

A spokesperson for the RCMP in Burnaby confirmed this isn't their first investigation into English. Cpl. Alexa Hodgins said the force conducted an investigation in 2000, related to allegations of a teacher abusing children at St. Thomas More between 1978 and 1982. Hodgins said the file "concluded in early 2001, without charges at the request of the victim."

The complainant was not John A. Doe, but Hodgins said the subject of both investigations was the same person, meaning it had to be Edward English.

For his part, Doe's affidavit states he went to the Burnaby RCMP a few years after leaving St. Thomas More Collegiate, but wasn't aware of any action taken by police after he gave his statement. According to Hodgins, there was no record of a complaint prior to 2000.

English remained in N.B. after prison term

Of all the convictions stemming from Mount Cashel, English received the stiffest punishment.

He was found guilty on 15 counts of physical and sexual abuse and initially sentenced to 13 years in prison. That was later reduced on appeal to 10 years. He was released after serving 5½ years behind bars and granted full parole.

He was released to a halfway house in New Brunswick, and public records show he's remained in the Moncton area ever since, most recently living in a small home on a country road south of Moncton.

According to documents obtained by CBC News, English filed for bankruptcy in 2020. The proceedings were finalized in January 2021, one month before he was named in the proposed class-action lawsuit in Vancouver.

The bankruptcy records show he operated a company called T. English Enterprises. There's little information on the company in Canadian records searches, but according to U.S. customs records, a company called Ted English Enterprises with a Moncton address was responsible for importing religious ornaments from China.

English has been attending proceedings in the proposed class action by video conference from his home in New Brunswick.

Certification hearings were stalled in August as all parties grappled with admissibility of new evidence. Hearings are expected to wrap up in November, and the judge will rule on whether the case proceeds as a class action or as a series of individual lawsuits.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ryan Cooke is a journalist in St. John's.

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