Man sues ex-coach’s estate
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An Ontario man is suing the estate of a former minor hockey coach and lawyer, alleging that as a teen, he was repeatedly sexually abused and photographed in “compromising and degrading situations” at the man’s Winnipeg home.
Robert (Bob) Dawson, 57, died by suicide at a Winnipeg hotel in October 2021, six weeks after police had charged him with sexual assault and child pornography offences involving two teenage boys he had coached three decades earlier.
In a statement of claim filed in Manitoba Court of King’s Bench last week, a 42-year-old man, identified only as John Doe, alleges Dawson groomed and sexually abused him while a coach with the Assiniboine Park Hockey Association in the early to mid-1990s, beginning when the alleged victim was 12.
“The nature of the relationship between the plaintiff and Dawson was that of a child and adult and/or aspiring athlete and coach as well as an aspiring student and mentor,” says the statement of claim.
Dawson was a graduate of the University of Oxford and was called to the bar in 1991 in the areas of civil litigation and administrative law. Dawson had taught legal ethics at the University of Manitoba and served as an adjudicator with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. He was also a former chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s national administrative law section.
Dawson “progressively pursued a relationship of trust” with Doe, beginning with rides to and from hockey games and practices, then later outings to Jets games and museums and time at Dawson’s house watching movies, the statement of claim alleges.
Dawson, an alumnus of St. Paul’s High School, told Doe he could help him win admission to the school and invited Doe to “spend increasingly more time” at his home on the pretence of assisting him prepare for his entrance exams, the statement of claim says.
When Doe was 14, Dawson offered him part-time work, supposedly to help him prepare for a court case, the statement of claim alleges.
On one occasion, Dawson allegedly provided Doe with a tight-fitting black T-shirt with the word SLAVE written on it and black brief-style underwear, and photographed Doe in the clothing, explaining he was preparing evidence for a legal file.
Dawson’s demands escalated to tying Doe to a bed and making him wear sex gear, including hoods, blindfolds and ball gags during photo shoots.
“The plaintiff states that Dawson repeatedly photographed and videotaped (Doe) in compromising and degrading situations of a sexual nature, and that same amounted to the production of child pornography,” the statement of claim alleges.
Doe alleges Dawson sexually assaulted him while tied to a bed “or otherwise bound” and would leave him bound in a closet for long periods of time.
Dawson warned Doe to tell no one about the assaults, or he risked putting his hockey and education prospects in jeopardy.
Doe alleges Dawson shared sexually explicit pictures and videos of him with others without his consent. The statement of claim references Manitoba’s Intimate Image Protection Act, which details legal remedies available to victims seeking to retrieve or destroy illegal sexual images.
Doe alleges the abuse continued until he was 17.
“As a result of Dawson’s threats, and as a result of the psychological trauma and harm caused by Dawson’s assaults on the plaintiff, the plaintiff did not report Dawson’s assaults (to Winnipeg police) until 2021,” the statement says.
Doe is suing the estate for aggravated and punitive damages and special damages, including future care costs, alleging he continues to suffer from depression, thoughts of suicide and feelings of shame, humiliation and despair.
A call to Doe’s lawyer was not returned by deadline.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.
Updated on Thursday, January 5, 2023 9:16 AM CST: Changes wording re: suicide