Another lawsuit has been filed against the former educational assistant at a Whitehorse school who plead guilty to sexual interference with a student prior to his dismissal in 2019.
William Auclair-Bellemare served six months in jail for the initial criminal charges but the matter did not gather much public attention until local media reporting on a lawsuit filed by the father of the original victim in the summer of 2021.
Since the reopening of the investigation into the abuse of students at Hidden Valley Elementary School by the RCMP, Auclair-Bellemare has been charged with seven more offences relating to two more victims, both students at the school. A second lawsuit was filed last fall and the third hit Yukon Supreme Court on Aug. 11.
As in other lawsuits against Auclair-Bellemare, the Yukon government and the Attorney General of Canada are named as codefendants because they represent Auclair-Bellemare’s employer and the RCMP, whose investigation of the alleged abuse at the school has been widely criticized.
The most recent of the lawsuits is brought by the parents of a former Hidden Valley student on the student’s behalf. Their names are anonymized in court documents. The legal claim states that the student in question has been diagnosed with autism “at the severe end of the spectrum” and experiences learning and communication challenges.
The court documents describe Auclair-Bellemare as responsible for the supervision and care of students including some with educational or communications challenges. He was also in charge of an after-school program.
Also described in the court documents is the sexual abuse Auclair-Bellemare is alleged to have committed against the unnamed child. It describes the child as a vulnerable minor who Auclair-Bellemare held a position of authority over.
The alleged sexual offences inflicted significant mental distress on the child and their parents. The legal claim alleges the infliction of that distress was intentional and Auclair-Bellemare is directly liable for it. It also states that Auclair-Bellemare’s alleged victimization of the child amounts to discrimination and a breach of human rights.
Also alleged is the Yukon government’s negligence as Auclair-Bellemare’s employer. The lawsuit makes specific claims about the government’s failure to inform the plaintiffs about past predation and sexual abuse and the failure to inform them about the reason for Auclair-Bellemare’s dismissal. It also says they weren’t informed that an RCMP investigation was underway or that Auclair-Bellemare had plead guilty to charges.
Similar breaches of duties by the RCMP are also alleged.
The family is seeking a variety of relief and damages including coverage of the costs of past and future care for the child and their legal costs.
None of the allegations in the lawsuits have been proven in court. Auclair-Bellemare is scheduled to face trial on the criminal charges beginning next March.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org