Former music teacher's victim sues Royal

A former Bell High School student who was sexually abused by his music teacher in the 1970s is suing The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, where the teacher sought treatment.

Hospital where Bob Clarke sought treatment had duty to report abuse, victim claims

John Myers is suing The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and his former teacher, Bob Clarke, for $5 million. (Julie Ireton/CBC)

A former Bell High School student who was sexually abused by his music teacher in the 1970s is suing The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, where the teacher sought treatment.

A CBC investigation revealed teacher Bob Clarke had sought psychiatric treatment at The Royal for decades in an attempt to control his behaviour.

John Myers, 58, is one of 10 former students who went to police in 2016 to report historical sexual abuse by Clarke between the 1970s and 1990s.

A civil lawsuit has now been updated to include The Royal as a defendant in a case that Myers initially launched last fall against Clarke and his former employer, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

Myers and two members of his family are suing for more than $5 million.

"The Royal Ottawa knew what was going on and there was no duty to report? I'm totally confused why — if somebody had reported it to the school board, I hope or the police for sure, I wouldn't have had my life altered so much," Myers said. "'Tragic' is the word I use."

'It repulsed me''

In separate criminal court proceedings in 2018 and 2019, Clarke was convicted of crimes against all 10 students. He remains in federal prison.

According to his claim, Myers suffered "extreme psychological and psychiatric disorders" due to Bob Clarke's "assault, battery and sexually inappropriate exposure."

"It repulsed me at the time," Myers said of Clarke's acts of gross indecency with students both at the high school and on band trips in the 1970s. "But we carried on. I stayed in the band until Grade 13, then I started having mental issues."

A 2017 sexual behaviours assessment presented to the court at Clarke's 2018 sentencing hearing concluded Clarke had fallen through the cracks until "the damage was done." 

"It appears that his behaviour was either minimized by assessing psychiatrists or his care was transferred to other psychiatrists and he was lost in followup and discharged from treatment," wrote the report's author, Jonathan Gray, a staff psychiatrist with The Royal's sexual behaviours clinic.

Former high school music teacher Bob Clarke was convicted of sex-related crimes against 10 students. He's also named in a $5-million civil suit along with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, where he sought treatment. (Sir Robert Borden High School yearbooks, 1991)

'I'm a demon inside'

The report quotes from Clarke's hospital record at The Royal in the 1970s. 

One entry from 1975 notes that "Clarke recently touched a 15-year-old boy and may have charges laid against him." The report said police questioned Clarke at the time, but no charges were laid.

"I've made mistakes. I'm so sorry for having hurt them," Clarke is quoted saying in the report. "My own analysis is that I'm a demon inside and my subconscious sometimes overrides my conscious mind."

It's unclear exactly what Clarke told his various therapists over the years about any inappropriate physical contact he had with his students.

Myers's revised statement of claim alleges that The Royal "knew or ought to have known as early as the 1st of August 1975 that the Defendant Robert E. Clarke was involved in conduct that was sexually inappropriate with children under the age of 18 and more particularly young males."

The Royal had a duty to report Clarke's behaviour, according to the statement of claim.

"John has lost income, will continue to lose income and will be dependent on therapies and medications for the rest of his life. He will also require attendant care," it says.

The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre has not yet filed a statement of defence, but in an email to CBC, it said it will be responding to the claim. 


Julie Ireton

Senior Reporter

Julie Ireton is a senior reporter who works on investigations and enterprise news features at CBC Ottawa. She's also the host of the CBC investigative podcast, The Band Played On found at: You can reach her at