Appeal filed in school abuse case
Aug 25, 2012 / 2:00 pm
A group of former students of a Christian college in eastern Ontario claiming abuse do not have the emotional strength to pursue individual lawsuits, their lawyer is arguing.
A judge denied certification earlier this year for their proposed $200-million class-action lawsuit against Grenville Christian College and its two former headmasters and the Anglican Diocese of Ontario, saying it isn't the preferable procedure.
But Loretta Merritt, one of the three lawyers for the plaintiffs, said that individuals would struggle to move forward with the case on their own and a class-action suit is the best way for them to be heard.
"If this decision were to stand then each individual survivor would have to come forward and say 'I want to pursue an individual action,'" she said.
"Will those people want to launch individual actions? I don't know. That's one of the concerns we have and one of the reasons why we are appealing. We are concerned that individuals may not have the emotional or financial wherewithal to pursue it on their own."
Currently there are five plaintiffs, but Merritt said about 300 people have been in touch with her and her co-counsel to pursue becoming part of the lawsuit.
"We do believe that a class action is a preferable procedure," Merritt said. "He did find that all the other criteria for certification had been met."
Grenville Christian College, which was run by Anglican priests, closed in August 2007 as allegations surfaced that psychological, physical and sexual abuse extended to the late 1970s.
At that time the chairman of the board of directors cited "changing demographics, declining enrolment, and increasing operating costs" as reasons for the closure.
The school had an elite reputation among Ontario private schools, charging up to $35,000 annually, and listed former lieutenant governors, a senator and a Canadian diplomat among its patrons.
The plaintiffs in the case are former students at the college, which operated both as a junior school and residential high school, and they alleged in the lawsuit that they were subjected to years of abuse.
The suit claimed the school was run as a mind-control cult that left the former students traumatized.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
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