City of Westmount moves to settle with victims of sexual abuse by its former employee, John Garland

City of Westmount moves to settle with victims of sexual abuse by its former employee, John Garland

WESTMOUNT, QC, Jan. 23, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ – Between 1953 and 1987, John Garland worked in the City of Westmount’s Parks and Recreation Department. Mr. Garland misused his position of power and trust to abuse sexually some of the children and teenagers in his care.

The City acknowledges that the effects of sexual abuse can last a lifetime and be devastating for victims, their families, and a community. This is particularly true when the abuse is directed at the most vulnerable among us, our children.

Protecting and ensuring the safety of our community’s children is at all times a priority for the City. We are profoundly saddened and sorry that these terrible events occurred.

Mr. Garland’s actions were first brought to the attention of the City in the Spring of 2015 by Class Representative, Mr. Matthew Bissonnette. The City has since worked tirelessly to understand what happened and conducted a thorough investigation into the allegations of abuse. Not only did the investigation reveal to the City what transpired during Mr. Garland’s tenure at Westmount, but it also allowed it to make sure that the safeguards in place today protect the community from sexual abuse.

While the past abuse that occurred in Westmount cannot be undone, the City wishes to impact the present and the future meaningfully and positively, by being an active participant in the movement to create a society free from childhood sexual abuse. Only through a frank and open discussion of the reality of such abuse can we build a safer world for our children.

The more open we are about sexual abuse, the more comfortable it becomes for children to come forward earlier so that the abuse can stop. In short, Westmount is committed to removing the veils of secrecy, shame and denial that for decades have shrouded the issue of childhood sexual abuse.

It is with that in mind that we are issuing today’s statement.

The City expresses its sincere regrets to those who were sexually abused by John Garland, and hopes that the settlement it has submitted for approval by the Superior Court of Quebec can, in some small way, help with their healing process.

Rather than fighting a lengthy legal battle with the survivors, the City chose early on to conduct an investigation, to work with Mr. Bissonnette, to find a way to provide meaningful compensation to class members and to design a simple and discreet process for victims to come forward while maintaining strict confidentiality. Mr Bissonnette has applauded the City’s frank and honourable approach to the lawsuit.

Starting today, class members can contact Class Counsel, Trudel Johnston & Lespérance, to learn about the proposed settlement and how to submit an eventual claim.

All communications with Class counsel are covered by solicitor-client privilege and will remain strictly confidential.

A toll-free information helpline exists for sexual assault victims of all ages. The service provides free, bilingual and confidential support and guidance, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout Québec, at a toll-free number: 1 888 933-9007 or 514 933-9007 for the Montreal region.

Information is also available at www.agressionssexuelles.gouv.qc.ca.

SOURCE City of Westmount.

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