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Suit alleges

sex abuse in
cadet program
PETER KENNEDY
VANCOUVER From Monday's Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Jan. 26, 2004 12:00AM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Mar. 18, 2009 11:03AM EDT

The Attorney-General of Canada has been named as a defendant in a suit


that is seeking compensation for teenage boys alleged to have been victims
of a series of sex abuse crimes in the HMCS Discovery sea cadet program.
The suit, which has been compared in size and scope to the infamous Mount
Cashel case in Newfoundland, is set to proceed after being certified as a
class action by the British Columbia Supreme Court.
It alleges that as many as 63 teenage boys may have been sexually abused
by reserve officers who preyed on cadets from the Vancouver based HMCS
Discovery between 1967 and 1977.
"This was a very unfortunate situation,'' said Robert Gibbens, the lawyer
acting for William White, a Vancouver resident who is named as a victim in
the class-action suit.
Mr. Gibbens alleges that the lives of many former cadets who are now in
their late 40s were ruined after they were abused in an atmosphere that one
judge described as a "subculture of perversity."
Five former officers of HMCS Discovery, which is stationed in Vancouver's
Stanley Park, are named as third parties in the case.
Two of them, Ralph Bremner and Conrad Sundman, have been found guilty
of sexual abuse and other sex crimes.
Mr. Sundman was sentenced to seven years in prison three years ago after
earlier pleading guilty to 13 counts of indecent assault and three counts of
buggery. Mr. Bremner was convicted of four counts of indecent assault on
boys aged between 13 and 15 years old.
In a complaint filed in the B.C. Supreme Court, Mr. White is alleging that the
federal government may be liable for what is said to have occurred on HMCS
Discovery, because the Sea Cadets program was set up under the National
Defence Act.
Mr. White alleges that the Attorney-General failed to take reasonable
measures in the operation or management of the program to protect the
cadets from conduct of a sexual nature by employees, agents and other
cadets at HMCS Discovery.
During Mr. Sundman's and Mr. Bremner's criminal trials, evidence emerged
of officers plying their young charges with alcohol and pornography.

One of the victims told court how, as 400 cadets were gathered in a room
watching footage of one of the U.S. landings on the moon, Mr. Sundman
slipped his hand in the cadet's pocket and began fondling him.
If the plaintiffs are successful, the federal government would be compelled
to pay huge damages to some of the victims.
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