ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A former Scouts leader convicted in Ottawa of sex crimes against young boys was also a volunteer with the organization in Newfoundland and Labrador, and a lawyer specializing in sexual abuse cases says people in the province should know.
Donald Sullivan was convicted last year in Ontario for five counts of gross indecency for crimes he committed against 10 boys when he was a volunteer Scouts leader in Ottawa from 1972 to 1977.
He was also convicted of one count of sexual assault unrelated to his time with the Scouts and was sentenced to a total of six years in prison.
A Scouts Canada spokeswoman confirmed in an email that before moving to Ottawa, Sullivan was a volunteer with the 1st Teresa troop in Newfoundland and Labrador from 1968 to 1972, but she said there is no record of complaints about him from that time.
Toronto lawyer Loretta Merritt has been involved with cases against Scouts Canada for decades and says that while there is no legal obligation for the organization to alert families in Newfoundland and Labrador who may have been in contact with Sullivan, there is a moral duty.
Merritt says in an interview that if there are victims in the province, knowing they aren’t alone could prompt them to seek help or come forward.
She says cases of historical abuse are complicated, and the legal system is only just starting to look at what the appropriate responses could be.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2020.
The Canadian Press