Historical sexual abuse of children on Canadian military bases results in lawsuit against federal government
Bobbie Bees was seven years old when he says his life was forever changed. Bees was in Grade 2 when he lived on a military base with his family while his dad was a master corporal stationed at Canadian Forces Base Namao.
Now, 44 years later, Bees is waging a very personal war. Bees said he’s tortured by the memories of horrific sexual abuse by a Canadian Armed Forces priest.
“It’s like an albatross around my neck, no matter what I do to break free, I can’t break free from this,” Bees said.
Bees said his abuser, Capt. Angus Mcrae, worked as a chaplain at various military bases. Mcrae signed a confession on June 10, 1980, admitting to the Catholic Church he committed “indecent acts with several minors.”
Mcrae wasn’t charged in relation to Bees’ allegations but he was eventually charged in relation to offences against others. He died in 2011.
“I want the Canadian Forces to sit down and admit – yes, children were sexually abused on bases,” Bees said.
“It’s not just sexual abuse for a year and half. I spent two-and-a-half years in the care of a military social worker, who at the time, was adamant it was my fault and that I was exhibiting signs of what he referred to as a mental illness, like homosexuality,” Bees said.
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Bees is representing 25 other children, now adults, in a class action lawsuit claiming the Canadian government made no effort to seek out and compensate those who say they were sexually assaulted.
Mathew Farrell is the lawyer filing the claim.
“Some of the worst things that can happen to a person happened to these people and nobody has justice for them until now,” Farrell said.
“I’m hoping for recognition, accountability and some justice for these kids.”
The suit also claims the government failed to protect the children.
“They were failed twice over,” Farrell said. “On one hand, there was this person who was put in a position where he had access to children and abused a position of trust.
“And when he was finally caught these kids didn’t get the help they should have.”
A statement of defence hasn’t been filed and the Department of National Defence declined to comment because legal proceedings are underway.
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“I know it’s not going to put me in a magical time machine and go back to 1978 and I can relive my life and see what it could have been had none of this happened,” Bees said.
“It could take years to settle this case, Bobbie signed up for a long haul and he knows it,” Farrell said.
Yet once it’s over, Bees said he hopes to get approval for medical assistance in dying. He’s tried to take his own life before.
“It doesn’t go away and never will.”
“I have maybe 30 years left and I don’t want to live that with memoires of the Canadian Forces or the aftermath or anything else associated with that,” Bees said.
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