Joseph Burke taught at Vancouver College until 2013, when he was suspended during an investigation into his disciplinary tactics. He chose to retire.
Greg Connors turns 58 this week.
Darrin Connors will be 57 next month.
Kevin Little is 55.
The youngest member of the proposed class action is 30. He has accused Burke of sexually abusing him as recently as 2009.
The proposed class action has yet to be certified by a judge. Hearings concluded on November 17, and a judge is expected to make a decision in the new year. Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that the abuse was systemic, so all the cases should be joined as one class action. They say this approach would also make it easier for victims to come forward, as they would have the power of a group.
The lawsuit names the two schools, six Christian Brothers from Mount Cashel – Joseph Burke, Edward English, Douglas Kenny, Edward French, David Burton and Kevin Short – as well as the former head of the Christian Brothers of Ireland in Canada, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver and the Catholic Independent Schools of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
Vancouver College and St. Thomas More Collegiate, meanwhile, says it supports any investigation into allegations of abuse, but argues they should be dealt with on an individual basis.
“The key questions are individual and dependent on factual findings, which cannot be done on a class basis,” reads a statement from Vancouver College. “The proposed common-issues trial will not address, and will only delay, the resolution of issues that are prevalent to all of the plaintiffs.”
“Crimes of abuse are tragic and have lifelong consequences for those involved, and we extend our deepest sympathies to anyone who has been affected in any way by abuse,” a statement from St. Thomas More Collegiate. A spokesman for the school said they cannot comment on ongoing litigation, but added: “What I can say is that we encourage anyone who needs it to seek support through a trusted resource.”
Burke has mostly avoided the trial, citing ill health. He showed his face in the courtroom for the first time on November 15, where he sat for a few hours as lawyers neared the end of their arguments.
Burke has not filed a defense in court.
Colin Wilson hopes the class action continues. He wants to know who knew about the allegations at Mount Cashel and how the six men from the orphanage could be allowed to teach again.
“I don’t know if you know the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus preached to be aware of wolves in sheep’s clothing,” Wilson said. “Well that’s what Mr. Burke was. He was able to manipulate the situation and be your friend and then on the flip side turn into this evil man and he’s a very sick individual. He’s caused a lot of pain to a lot of people .”