The Yukon government has spent $2.5 million on settling sexual abuse lawsuits since 2000, the territory’s justice minister said in a statement Oct. 30.
The statement from Justice Minister Tracy McPhee comes weeks after two Toronto Star stories, also published in the Yukon News, revealed that the territorial government has been quietly settling lawsuits over sexual abuse by a former school principal identified only as “J.V.” Reporter Jesse Winter uncovered at least seven lawsuits involving J.V. and found that the settlements often involved confidentiality agreements preventing the victims from talking about the settlements.
In the statement, McPhee said that “approximately” 40 sexual assault cases have been launched against the Yukon government since 2000.
“Some cases have been dismissed or discontinued, and most have been settled,” the statement says. It does not provide an exact number for how many cases have been settled, or if any of the cases are still active.
The statement continues: “Settlements are tailored to the individual circumstances of each case, therefore not all settlement amounts are the same. The sum paid out would include the Government of Yukon’s payments, money paid by government insurers, and payment of plaintiff’s legal costs in some cases.”
The statement also says that lawyers for the government have “never insisted on non-disclosure clauses that would prevent a victim from disclosing their personal circumstances, including any details about any abuse they suffered.”
“Our focus has always been on ensuring that the actual settlement negotiations and settlement details remain confidential. This is not to deter victims from coming forward but to encourage settlement by allowing for detailed discussions about the merits of each case by all parties,” the statement says. “We believe that coming to a settlement is always a better alternative for those involved but in particular for the victim.”
More to come.