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Vancouver police questioned Christian Brother about B.C. sex abuse allegations

Edward English was given a 10-year prison sentence for abusing boys at Newfoundland's Mount Cashel Orphanage.
Statue of Themis, the goddess of justice, at the Vancouver Law Courts.

Vancouver police this week questioned a former Christian Brother sentenced to 10 years for abusing boys at a Newfoundland orphanage, sources tell Glacier Media.

It was more than 30 years ago that Canadians were horrified to hear tales of physical and sexual abuse of boys by the Christian Brothers order operating Newfoundland and Labrador’s Mount Cashel Orphanage. An RCMP investigation into alleged child abuse at Mount Cashel began in 1975.

Edward English was one of those Christian Brothers.

In 1991, he was handed a 10-year prison sentence.

This week, English was taken to a New Brunswick RCMP detachment for questioning for five hours, said a reliable source to whom Glacier Media has granted anonymity.

The source said the questioning regarded allegations of sexual assault and sexual interference involving two B.C. males. The source said English was released without charges.

New Brunswick RCMP did not respond to requests for comment and RCMP national headquarters in Ottawa referred questions to the Vancouver Police Department (VPD).

Sgt. Steve Addison told Glacier Media the VPD is unable to confirm whether any person is the subject of a police investigation if that person has not been formally charged with a crime.

“I am unaware of any charges against the person you have named in relation to any Vancouver police investigations,” he said.

The affidavits

The source said the police questioning regarded allegations made by Darren Liptrot and Christopher Dzieken.

A Jan. 27, 2022 B.C. Supreme Court affidavit from Liptrot alleged English abused him. Liptrot said he attended Vancouver College, where English taught him French and religion, from Grades 8 to 12, between 1980 and 1985.

“I endured physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the hands of Brother English for two years. The abuse included slapping, beating and sexual fondling,” Liptrot’s affidavit said. 

A March 31, 2022 B.C. Supreme Court affidavit from Dzieken said he attended Vancouver College from 1976 to 1984. He said English taught him French in Grade 10.

Dzieken claimed English took an interest in the wrestling team and attended practices — despite not being involved with the team.

Dzieken said English could help with his soreness from practice and took him to his private room.

“He told me to stand behind him, up close, and to put my arms around his waist. He then took my arms and placed them into the pockets of his gown, and he tried to push my hands down,” the affidavit said.

Class-action suit

In March, B.C. Supreme Court certified a class-action lawsuit against two Catholic schools and the Vancouver archbishop for alleged abuse by Christian Brothers transferred from Mount Cashel.

The class-action suit, filed in March 2022, said the Christian Brothers transferred six abusive members from the orphanage to Vancouver College and St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby between 1976 and 1983.

The suit was initially filed in February 2021 with Liptrot as the representative plaintiff.

Named as defendants in the notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court Jan. 31 are Vancouver College Ltd., St. Thomas More Collegiate, Edward English, Joseph Burke, Douglas Kenny, Gerard Gabriel McHugh, the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver and the Catholic Independent Schools of Vancouver Archdiocese.

Justice Simon Coval called the events "tragic" — ones that "ultimately led to criminal convictions of many Christian Brothers who ran the orphanage."

“The claim alleges that senior Christian Brothers orchestrated the transfers, despite knowing what had occurred at Mount Cashel, and that the transferees and other Christian Brothers went on to abuse students at the schools,” Coval said.

In the 1990s, when the crimes at Mount Cashel were revealed and prosecuted, four of the six transferees were convicted, including English and Kenny, court documents said.