After my informal conversation with the ex-JAG lawyer a few days ago, I came to the realization that much like the Army Cadets from the grenade incident in 1974 at Canadian Force Base Valcartier, and the multitude of gays and lesbians that were booted out of the military in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and 80s’, civilian persons who were sexually abused on military bases prior to 1998 are also stuck in a “legal void”.
The Canadian Armed Forces had the “legal” mandate to discharge homosexuals from its ranks prior to the abolition of Canadian Forces Administrative Order CFAO 19-20. Of course, ethical and legal are two different animals. The Canadian Armed Forces could have easily quashed the class action lawsuit brought against it by those who were ensnared by CFAO 19-20. But the Canadian Forces and the Federal Government chose not to, more than likely out of fear of a negative public reaction.
In 1974, an officer with the Canadian Armed Forces was conducting range safety training with a group of 200 teenage boys. This officer, through negligence, allowed a live hand grenade to be brought into the impromptu class room. This officer of the Canadian Armed Forces allowed the pin to be pulled from the grenade. 6 young boys died immediately, with more than 50 sustaining life altering injuries. In 2011, the Minister of National Defence requested the Canadian Forces Ombudsman look into the matter. The Ombudsman was appalled by the fact that the Officers with the Canadian Armed Forces who were wholly responsible for the deaths and injuries that day were allowed to collect compensation from the Department of National Defence, yet the young boys were all barred from receiving any manner of benefits or compensation as they were not members of the Regular or Reserve Forces. Sure, some parents had the fortitude to sue the Government of Canada. But most of the parents lacked the financial resources to take on the Department of Justice and The Department of National Defence. The Department of National Defence quickly settled with the former cadets.
That brings up my recent conversation with an ex-JAG lawyer. He cited a number of legal reasons as to why DND and the CF could never be sued in a court of law by me personnally for the injuries that I suffered as a result of the abuse from Captain Father Angus McRae and P.S., as well as the emotional trauma I endured at the hands of the military social worker.
Now, I will be honest. This is not the first time a class action has entered my mind. A few things have held me back. First, finding class action lawyers with military law experience. Second, finding other victims of military child sexual abuse. Third, money.
I now realize that I don’t have to find a class action lawer with military law experience. I can retain any law firm I wish that specializes in class actions. I just have to retain an ex-JAG to act as a legal adivser for the class action firm.
Also, I don’t have to worry about finding the other victims. That’s what web, print, television, and radio advertising are for. Definitely won’t be cheap, but it will work a lot faster than my blog or the Facebook base brat groups. The Facebook groups contain only a very small portion of the true number of persons who lived on defence establishments as children. There is a manager at my place of work who was a military dependant. They only found out about my being a former military dependant when they over heard me talking to someone about my father having been in the Canadian Forces. This manager runs one of the other departments. They too were sexually abused on one of the bases they lived on. They don’t know what happened to their abused as the manager and her family moved to another base. This manager is ashamed of having been a military dependant and wishes that no one knows about this and they feel quite serious that their ability to manage wold be called into question.
So I know there are a lot more former military dependants out there in the general population than are on the Facebook groups.
That brings me to the money.
I’ve never used a platform like GoFundMe previously, and I’m still not 100% certain of all of the aspects of raising funds in this manner. But I do believe that raising funds in this manner will allow for a class action to be brought against the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence a lot quicker than by relying on me to fund this on my own.
What happens with the funds if I’m not successful? Any money collected but not spent will be given to various children aid societies across Canada. I know that my family wasn’t the only social service magnet hopping from base to base across Canada.
Will $50k be enough?
Most ex-JAGs that I’ve spoken with in the past have asked for retainers between $5k to $20k with the majority being in between $10k to $15k. Most of these ex-JAGs bill over $600.00/hr. So yeah, I expect the ex-JAG to consume the lion’s portion of the funds raised. That said, I believe these funds spent will be a worthwhile investment as the ex-JAG should be able to walk the class-action law firm through all of the grey areas in the National Defence Act and the Queen’s Regulations and Orders that allowed the Canadian Forces to conduct tribunals for crimes that rightfully should have been put before a civilian court.
Don’t forget but as illustrated by the recent ex-JAG, the Canadian Forces were NOT supposed to be conducting service tribunals for members charged with sexual assaults against children. I now have proof that the Canadian Forces were conducting service tribunals for sexual assaults against children. This is a game changer.
Most class action law firms are more than willing to work on a contingency basis, meaning they ask for very little up front, and instead collect their fees at the end. This of course drives the law firm to try to collect a large settlement.
I fully expect the advertising portion to eat up the remaining balance of the funds raised.
How many victims are there?
I honestly don’t know.
The most accurate number I can guesstimate comes from numbers I received from DND. According to DND housing records, there were 20,500 PMQs and 19,500 children living on the bases in Canada in 1997. At the time there were only 31 bases. Less than 10 years prior there were over 80 bases and stations in Canada. By extrapolation I can say with confidence that there were at least 50,000 children living on the bases in Canada each and every year prior to 1987.
According to civilian stats, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 20 boys will be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday.
That’s 16,500 girls and 2,500 boys.
However, recent studies have shown that the rate of sexual assault amongst male children is typically even higher with a rate of 1 in 10 to 1 in 6.
I invite you to make a donation to the cause.
Remember, most brats had a good life on the bases, but for those ones who fell through the cracks, they had absolutely nothing in the way of safety nets.