A former inmate has been awarded $40,000.00 in compensation plus $10,000.00 in punitive damges for sexual abuse he suffered by a former prison guard, Roderick David MacDougall. The inmate sued the Province of British Columbia that ran the prison, the Lower Mainland Regional Correctional Center.
MacDougall sexually assaulted the inmate twice using a combination of intimidation and promises of a pass from the prison for the holidays. The judge was clear about how he felt about MacDougall’s actions:
As with the other MacDougall cases, the context of MacDougall, who was in a position of authority in the prison, and of Mr. Hall, who was a young, vulnerable inmate, was clearly repugnant. MacDougall took advantage of his position and while there were no threats of direct violence there was the implied promise of the Christmastime pass.
Lawyers for the Province of British Columbia tried, (unsuccessfully) to attack the victims’ credibility, based in part on his criminal convictions. Does anyone else find it ”repugnant ” that the Province would defend a sexually abusive prison guard on the ground that his victims are not credible BECAUSE THEY WERE PRISONERS?
The victim, had a horrific pre-trauma history, his mother was a physically abusive prostitute, he developed substance addictions and anger management issues at a young age. The judge clearly had difficulty sorting out the traumatic effects of the victims’s childhood and those of the sexual abuse by the prison guard, MacDougall.
Thus, the challenge this Court is tasked with is to tease out the strands of damage that were caused by the abuse by MacDougall and the strands of damage that were already in existence and would have developed in any event, and the damage that occurred later but was without intersection with the MacDougall abuse, in order to place Mr. Hall in the position he would have been in “but for” the assaults.
The median award for non-pecuniary (pain and suffering) damages for sexual abuse in Canada is $125,000.00.
It is incredibly unfortunate that the very issues that made him vulnerable to attack by MacDougall resulted in such a relatively low award.
You can read the full decision here.
There are at least 16 other reported decisions involving sexual abuse by MacDougall against other inmates! One has to ask the question, were the people in charge of supervising MacDougall fired suspended or even reprimanded?
I doubt it.
I have represented hundreds of survivors of childhood abuse. Many of them, because of their traumatic childhood, have criminal records. It is difficult enough for victims of abuse to come forward to confront their abusers. It is appalling that sexual abusers can use the effects of the abuse to try to avoid being held accountable.