Ralph Bremner

After decades of silence and years of legal wrangling, former sea cadets who suffered sexual abuse while serving in HMCS Discovery’s youth program will finally receive their compensation package.

In 2004, 35 victims who were all former members of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corp., which operated out of HMCS Discovery in Stanley Park, were approved to be part of a class-action lawsuit.

The victims were generally between 13 and 17 years old when they were abused.

Defendants of the class-action suit included the attorney-general of Canada and the Navy League of Canada, as well as three officers.

Ralph Bremner and Conrad Sundman were found guilty of sexual abuse and other sex crimes. Mr. Bremner was convicted of four counts of indecent assault on boys between 13 and 15 years old but did not serve jail time after the court found he qualified for a conditional sentence.

Mr. Sundman was sentenced in 2001 to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to 13 counts of indecent assault and three counts of buggery. A third man, Beverly Wilson, was found too old and unfit to stand trial.

No one at the Navy League of Canada was available for comment late yesterday.

Lorne Lachance, counsel for the Attorney-General of Canada, said 80 victims from throughout Canada and one from Germany have been approved to have claims for a portion of the settlement.

In a settlement with the federal Defence Department announced in April, 2006, the former cadets will receive part of a $10-million compensation package.

The male cadets were abused while attending training sessions at the base on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Some were abused at the officers’ homes, at the Vancouver naval base and on military buses.

Under the agreement approved by the B.C. Supreme Court last spring, victims had a 45-day window after April to seek a claim.

“There was a lengthy process of assessment, which were all done by psychologists and they’ve finished their assessments,” Mr. Lachance said yesterday.

“We expect there will be a final payout by the end of January. That way they can all get some closure and move on.”

The claims of abuse date from 1964 to 1980.

The settlement offered anonymity to the claimants so they were not obliged to give evidence in court or be cross-examined on the issue of liability or damage