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John McKiggan Q.C.
John McKiggan Q.C.
Attorney • (902) 423-2050

Former Boy Scout Leader Facing More Sexual Abuse Charges

12 comments

Ontario Provincial Police have laid more sexual abuse charges against former Boy Scout leader and Anglican priest, Ralph Rowe.

Rowe is charged with five counts of sexual assault and two counts of indecent assault. Rowe is a notorious sexual predator. He has already been convicted of more than fifty sexual offences for assaults that occurred in 1970s and 1980s when he was conducting church services and/or leading Boy Scout troops in First Nations communities in Manitoba and Ontario.

Dozens of victims

In 1998, he was convicted of 10 sexual assault charges relating to the time spent in Split Lake.

In 1994, Rowe pleaded guilty to 29 sexual abuse offences involving 16 victims.

In 2007 and 2009, he was found guilty of further charges.

Rowe is one of Canada’s most notorious pedophiles. But because most of his offences took place in First Nations communities there has been little publicity relating to the charges.

Scouts Canada liable?

There have been civil suits filed against Rowe and the Boy Scouts of Canada. However, there are no public records of the claims because they were settled quietly out of court. There is no indication if Scouts Canada admitted any wrongdoing or liability when the claims were settled.

Scouts Canada investigating hundreds of past claims

Recently, an investigative report by CBC uncovered repeated incidents of Boy Scout leaders abusing children who were moved or never reported to police. Scouts Canada has requested an independent audit by KPMG.

Media reports indicate that the Boy Scouts Canada has turned over hundreds of files involving cases of alleged pedophilia to the auditors. Depending on the results of the report, Scouts Canada could be facing hundreds, perhaps thousands of civil claims from abuse victims.

The results of the audit were supposed to be released early this year, but victims’ advocates are still waiting to hear of the auditors conclusions.

For more information you can read my previous articles:

Scouts Canada Admits Not Reporting Abuse Claims

Sports and Scouts at Risk of Liability for Sexual Abuse

Boy Scouts Canada Kept Secret List of Abusers: Players are different but the script is the same.

12 Comments

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  1. john petitti says:
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    Dear Mr. McKiggan:

    Your post is inaccurate and misleading.
    Scouts Canada is very happy to see the likes of Ralph Rowe brought to justice. Rowe used his position of trust as an Anglican priest to commit terrible crimes during the 1970s and 1980s. He also abused his community status to gain entry into and then betray the values of Scouts Canada. Tragically, some of his victims were also Scouts.
    Ralph Rowe’s crimes were obviously horrendous, and our deepest sympathies and concern extend to all those who suffered harm.
    Rowe was suspended and terminated from Scouts Canada after charges were first laid against him 1988. Scouts Canada participated fully in the police investigations into Rowe’s activities and provided all records relating to his Scouting activities, and we will of course support the investigation at this time in any way we can.
    Rowe was an established priest with the church when he came to Scouting, and the Anglican Church has paid out considerable settlements in the past. We are saddened that Rowe used his status in the community to gain entry into Scouts Canada. Child abuse is a societal problem, and we all have a responsibility to protect our kids from harm.
    Re: Scouts Canada investigating hundreds of past claims
    Contrary to your statement that “Media reports indicate that the Boy Scouts Canada has turned over hundreds of files” to auditors, it was in fact Scouts Canada who publicly announced that we had engaged KPMG’s Forensic group to conduct a thorough, arms-length review of all records held by Scouts Canada on Leader suspensions or terminations that are related to abuse. It’s important to note that these records go back 50 years, so researching all the data is a time-consuming process. We have also committed to making the results of KPMG’s examination public – we will ensure complete transparency, if for no other reason than to offer the public a sense of comfort and to maintain the confidence that we have earned over the past 105 years.

    The KPMG audit is consistent with the duty we feel as an organization to make sure we continuously improve our policies and practices to make it all the harder and all the more rare for those seeking to do harm to infiltrate our organization, to ensure that we offer the safest environment for youth, and to maintain the strongest possible culture of safety across our organization. But, like any national youth service organization, we have to face up to the fact that there are bad people out there who might want to betray organizations like ours to harm children and youth. We can’t pretend that doesn’t exist in our society but we are doing all we can to provide a safe and secure environment for the children and youth entrusted to our care. And we can ensure that our tens of thousands of caring volunteers – many of whom are parents of young children themselves – have the comprehensive training that equips them serve as our first and strongest line of defence.

    Should you be interested in further details, or in enhancing the accuracy of any future observations on Scouts Canada that you may wish to post, I’d be pleased to address any questions that you may have.

    Sincerely,

    John Petitti
    Executive Director, Marketing and Communications
    Scouts Canada
    jpetitti@scouts.ca

  2. Andrew Phillips says:
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    Nice attempt at ambulance chasing Mr McKiggan. It would be great if your post suggested anything other than a desire to attempt to bankrupt an Canadian establishment for actions in the past where society as a whole failed to protect youth from predators.

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    Thank you for your comments.
    Anyone under any misimpression about the role Scouts Canada played in the abuse of these children needs to watch the Fifth Estate’s investigative report The Lost Boys
    http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2011-2012/thelostboys/

    Mr. Philips: “society as a whole” did not fail to protect these boys. Scouts Canada failed to report the allegations of abuse as required by the law, so no one could protect these children.

    Survivors do not want to bankrupt Scouts Canada. On the contrary, most survivors I have talked to end up going to lawyers only because they are frustrated with the lack of accountability of the institutions that allowed them to be abused as children. A clear and unambiguous acknowlegement of the role that SC played in the harm that these children suffered would likely satisfy most abuse survivors.

    I have no doubt that the vast majority of Scout volunteers are decent people. just like most catholic priests are good men. But many people in authority in the catholic church chose to value the reputation of the church over the safety of children.

    The Fifth Estate’s investigation appears to indicate that persons in authority in Scouts Canada may have made similar choices.

    Mr. Petitti are you suggesting Scouts Canada has no responsibility for the abuse that Ralph Rowes victims suffered? What about all the other victims who were abused by Scout Leaders?

    It will be the abuse survivors who will decide whether Scout Canada’s resonse to this crisis is adequate.

  4. Mike Bryant says:
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    Interesting that the defenders of the organization are out and as usual care more about the organization than the children they claim to protect. The survivors are courageous individuals who have been kept silent for far too long.
    Very odd sense of justice Andrew, the way to stop the claims is to stop those that do these heinous acts and all of those that use silence and power to protect them. Lawyers don’t just create these claims but are needed due to the lack of responsibility by those who choose loyalty over what’s the right thing to do.
    Zero tolerance means Zero!

  5. john petitti says:
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    If your perspective on the matter is limited to CBC reporting, then you’ve chosen a very limited view (and your agenda is rather transparent). Scouts Canada has been quite open about the fact that there are times when, unfortunately, we have failed in our responsibility to protect the children in our care. This holds true in the case of Mr. Rowe as well as others who have betrayed our youth. I’ve pointed out in my earlier post the steps that we have taken to help bring Mr, Rowe to justice, so your claim that we accept no responsibility for his crimes is false – plain and simple.

    While these cases go back many decades, it does nothing to reduce the severity of the crime or of the victim’s suffering. We’re providing counseling, support and whatever other services might be required as people come forward. We’ve reached settlements with a number of victims, as I suspect you know very well. We’ve given them an assurance that we will not stand in the way of them telling their stories. I don’t know what would be enough in such tragic situations. But at a minimum we are committed to confronting our history and bringing all this to light to allow people a chance to heal.

    I agree 100% that it will be It will be the abuse survivors who will decide whether Scout Canada’s resonse to this crisis is adequate – as well as the rest of society. I suspect that you, on the other hand, have already formed your own conclusions, based upon very limited due diligence, and quite frankly I question your motivation.

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    Mr. Petitti

    It is true that you and I have fundamentally different views on this issue. I get the impression from your comments that you do not believe that SC has any responsibility for the abuse that these boys suffered.

    You are correct. I do not believe Scouts Canada’s actions in the past have been adequate to meet its obligation to protect children from harm. You and I will obviously never agree on this.

    However I am waiting with interest to see what actions SC will take, in the future, to address the problem.

  7. john petitti says:
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    Quite the contrary -I think I’ve been rather clear about where we have failed, what we are doing to address damage done in the past, and how we are working towards ensuring that past error are not repeated in the future. The fact that I question your motivations is in no way reflective of any act of denial on my part or that of SC. I’m also surprised to see you bail so quickly – it’s not like the crowds are going wild on this blog.

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    It appears we do agree on something. In the past, SC failed to protect the children entrusted to it’s care.

    You are clearly of the view that SC’s response to this crisis, to date, has been adequate.

    I, on the other hand, wish to see how SC is going to deal with the results of KPMG’s audit. That will be the measure of SC ‘s
    commitment.

    Perhaps you already know the results of the audit and SC’s plans. Otherwise how can you be so certain you are right?

  9. john petitti says:
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    But you could have discovered that with a simple google search – our Chief Commissioner, Steven Kent, acknowledged back on December 8th that there were past instances where Scouts Canada has failed in its duty to protect the children in it’s care. It’s not a broad, sweeping reality as you have tried to imply above, but the instances are rather well documented. Even the 5th estate reported Scouts Canada’s acknowledgement – so it should not come as a revelation.

    Our response to the tragic incidents that CBC brought to our attention as well as the public’s has been swift and comprehensive. Do your homework (I’m not going to do it for you)and you will learn how all aspects of our policies, programs and practices are being reviewed to ensure that they meet today’s child safety realities, and, to the best of our ability, that they anticipate the needs of tomorrow.

    And no – KPMG has not completed their report, and we have committed to making it public once it is complete. As for your question about how I can be so certain that I am “right” – there is no right or wrong with anything I’ve noted here. It is all part of the public record, available to anyone who takes the time to do a bit of research.

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    I look forward to seeing the results of the audit and SC’s proposal to address the harm suffered by the abuse victims.

  11. Mark Bello says:
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    I have read, with interest, John’s post and the comment stream it prompted. It seems clear that the Scouts’ response to abuse has been inadequate to satisfy victims. It also seems clear that Scouts Canada failed to properly screen this individual and, considering over 50 separate incidents of abuse, failed to adequately monitor his activities.

    Many members of the public question the motives of of attorneys who seek justice for victims of abuse. Whether John has some “profit motive” or not is beside the point. He is entitled to be paid for his services. On Scouts Canada’s watch, this predator was hired. On Scouts Canada’s watch, this predator practiced and honed his despicable craft and committed over 50 such atrocities, with no one in authority becoming suspicious. It is a failing of catastrophic proportions and one for which Scouts Canada should be held responsible.

    The response from Mr. Phillips and Mr. Petitti? “Why, the lawyer is the bad guy, of course! Ignore our aggregious conduct because a lawyer might make a fee representing the victims!” As famous anti-trial lawyer, John Stossel would say: “Give me a break!”
    The lawyer and the lawsuit are safety’s biggest advocate.

    The child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is one excellent example; the only reason the pedophile priest issues in the Church have come to the attention of Church hierarchy is because the cost of litigation and silencing victims became too high for the Church to deal with. Lawyers and lawsuits made that possible. Without lawyers holding supervisors accountable, predators like Ralph Rowe will continue to prey on innocent children. Thank God for the John McKiggans’ of the world; they keep all of us just a little bit safer.

  12. Claude Wyle says:
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    I just wanted to comment because I believe strongly that all of the parties who contributed to creating an environment where sexual abuse of children was rampant should be made accountable for their fair share of fault. It is odd how certain people try to shift the focus away from the bad conduct which needs to be deterred onto whether or not an attorney may have an agenda. Only if we have a thorough investigation will the truth have a hope to emerge. And who is supposed to stick up for the injured minors if their family attorneys will not? Accountability is the key, not hiding behind nasty comments, name calling and blaming society as a whole. Where do we start accountability? I applaud the inquiry and hope that the truth will win out and that this helps protect children. Calling this a problem with our society does absolutely nothing to protect our families. Strict accountability on the other hand will help.