Canada'Twisted damage' inflicted by former Scout leader in historical sex crimes against boys

13:07  14 august  2019
13:07  14 august  2019 Source:   ottawacitizen.com

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'Twisted damage' inflicted by former Scout leader in historical sex crimes against boys © Errol McGihon Former scout leader Donald Sullivan of Ottawa tries to cover his face as he leaves the Ottawa Courthouse on Aug. 13, 2019.

Donald Joseph Sullivan sat stone-faced in court Tuesday as, one after another, his victims stepped forward to share the harrowing details of their childhood torment and the lives left “shattered” by a series of sexual abuses against young boys from Sullivan’s time as a Scout leader in the 1970s.

His now-adult victims told court of the troubled youth that followed the abuse. One began cutting himself and showing up drunk to elementary school. Others told of increasingly high-risk behaviour, troubles with authority and the law, and all shared deep-seated feelings of guilt, shame and denial.

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The mother of one victim spoke for her son, who died of a heroin overdose.

The sister of another victim spoke for her brother, who died after speeding and crashing his motorcycle, and who had been victimized both by Sullivan and by Sullivan’s fraternal twin brother, also a registered sex offender who served time for sexually assaulting a minor.

Each testimonial read into the court record Tuesday shared common threads as Sullivan, now 68, used his position of authority and trust to groom his victims and carry out his sexual abuses. They happened at sleepovers at his apartment, at campouts, in the showers, in his car.

He sat in the front pew Tuesday as an emotional courtroom heard from nine of the 11 victims named in the current charges, which all involve sex crimes from 1972 to 1977 against young boys between the ages of 8 and 10, when Sullivan was in his mid-20s. Each of the victims’ identities is shielded by a publication ban.

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“I was too young and naïve to know you were grooming me,” one of the victims told court as Sullivan sat expressionless nearby. “Creating these secrets that we’d have to trust each other with. I didn’t know anything sexual was happening because I didn’t know what ‘sexual’ was.

“You were in a position of power, a Scout leader in charge of so many kids, teaching us right from wrong … You abused that in the worst way possible.”

The Crown cited a recent psychiatric assessment of Sullivan where he admitted to sexual relations with 30 male children who were between the ages of 8 and 12, when he was between the ages of 24 and 55.

He pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of sexual assault and committing indecent acts against children involving 11 victims.

Sullivan served as a volunteer Scout leader from 1972 to 1977 with the Scouts Canada 80 th Ottawa Troop out of the church basement at Immaculate Heart of Mary on Alta Vista Drive.

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He was fired in 1977, when police officers first started visiting the families of the young Cubs and Scouts under Sullivan’s watch, informing them of allegations boys were being molested.

Each of the victims who spoke out Tuesday — whether aloud in court, or in written victim impact statements for Crown attorney Sabrina Goldfarb to read into the record — told court they shared similar feelings of overwhelming guilt and shame after the abuses. Each of them denied to their parents they had been victimized.

“I became almost hysterical since I thought I had done something wrong,” one man told court when his parents first asked. “I could not admit to my loving parents the disgusting things he did.”

He didn’t speak about it again for 40 years.

Sullivan was not charged at the time, and he first went to jail at age 54 when he pleaded guilty in 2005 to two counts of sexual interference. He served a nine-month sentence.

Police launched a separate investigation into Sullivan’s historical sex crimes in June 2018 after two men came forward with allegations of his abuse during the 1970s.

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Investigators said at the time they feared there were more victims when he was charged, and more victims came forward with similar allegations.

One victim told court he came forward after reading Sullivan’s name in the newspaper.

“As I read it I immediately started crying and handed the (article) to my spouse, who didn’t understand my reaction since I had never shared my secret, despite being together for over 20 years.”

Those feelings would manifest in similar ways for the victims as they described the struggles they encountered through their lives, and the increasingly reckless and high-risk behaviour, which victims said “can be directly correlated to your abuse.”

One victim spoke of the “twisted damage” Sullivan inflicted.

He felt “powerless” to stop the assault as a child, so as an adult he sought to put himself in “terrifying situations” to prove to others and to himself that he could survive.

“That is the twisted damage this has had on me,” he said. “I always need to show how strong I am because I still feel weak. I need to show how fearless I am despite that fact of always feeling scared.”

The two victims who died in the years that followed the abuse were given a voice in court through family members.

The mother of two young boys who were abused by Sullivan detailed the “destructive path of no return” her youngest son took, first throwing tantrums and quitting school, running away, then attempting suicide. He died of a heroin overdose in 1999.

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“Rest in peace, and may justice be done,” the mother said, turning to stare directly at Sullivan and visibly seething as she walked past him.

The sister of another victim spoke in her deceased brother’s voice.

“I never had the chance to work through your abuse. I deserved the chance to become the person that I should have been. The person I would have been without your abuse. Instead I never had the chance to heal,” she said, her steady voice laced with anger.

“Your abuse forever changed (him) … The sweet innocent happy child you and your brother permanently damaged drove his motorbike at ridiculous speeds into a f—ing pole.

“He never had the chance to become who he was meant to be. Your abuse forever damaged him and our memories of him and I hate you for that. He never got to heal. How can we?”

The Crown asked Ontario Court Justice Norm Boxall to impose a 10-year penitentiary sentence, while defence lawyer Eric Granger argued for a conditional sentence for his client.

The judge reserved his decision on the sentence for a future date.


Twitter: @helmera


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