Skip to content

Former Greater Victoria student gets $2.3 million for sex abuse by tutor

Plaintiff suffers from post traumatic stress disorder over childhood sex abuse
A civil lawsuit has awarded a former Greater Victoria student $2.3 million for the sexual abuse he faced from a tutor as a child. (Black Press Media file photo)

Warning: This story contains mentions of sexual abuse and self-harm

A civil lawsuit has awarded a former Greater Victoria student $2.3 million for the sexual abuse he faced from a tutor as a child.

In a decision released on Jan. 29, Justice Simon Coval found the plaintiff suffered harm from the abuse that persisted through his childhood, stole his youth and innocence and caused long-term impacts that remain a heavy burden.

The damages awarded are for the plaintiff’s pain and suffering, the abuse’s impact on his past and future earnings and future care.

The now 35-year-old plaintiff, called H.N. in court documents, sued the estate of Gary Redgate over the childhood sexual abuse. Redgate died last year before the civil trial began, and his estate didn’t contest its liability for his actions.

The plaintiff also sued the Greater Victoria school district he attended and his Grade 6 teacher, William Haisell, who helped arrange the tutoring. The court dismissed those claims against the district because the abuse took place at Redgate’s home and was arranged between him and the plaintiff’s family.

H.N. also withdrew his claims against Haisell during the trial. The judge also ruled the teacher breached none of his duties as the in-school tutoring was arranged in good faith. Corval also said there was no evidence that Haisell or any school staff had reason to suspect Redgate, a Greater Victoria teacher of 35 years before the tutoring, posed a threat to the student.

The court heard that Redgate’s abuse of the child included lingering kisses on the lips, having the boy lie on him while erect, putting his hands down H.N.’s pants to squeeze his bare buttocks and more.

H.N. went from being an enthusiastic straight ‘A’ student in elementary school to losing interest in his education after the abuse. He also turned to reckless behaviour, along with using alcohol and drugs, as he continued to feel emotionally detached after graduating high school.

H.N. still deals with debilitating low moods at times. At the same time, a doctor who examined him testified as an expert in forensic psychiatry said he has post-traumatic stress disorder from childhood sexual abuse.

“The adverse impacts of childhood abuse can persist for decades, well into adulthood, affecting all aspects of one’s daily life,” the doctor testified. “Collectively, (H.N.)’s abuse leaves an indelible mark on his emotional, psychological, moral, cognitive and personality development.”

The doctor also said Redgate used threats of suicide to manipulate H.N. and hold the boy hostage. At the same time, another expert testified that the tutor’s actions exhibited numerous aspects of sexual grooming.

H.N. was a passionate student who started writing a novel during the 1999-2000 school year when he was just 11 years old. The boy’s mother and Haisell recognized the Grade 6 work wasn’t challenging enough for him and thought a tutor would enrich his learning.

The teacher thought Redgate, who had retired a few years earlier, would be a good candidate because of his teaching experience. Redgate seemed friendly and enthusiastic about tutoring H.N., the plaintiff’s mother recalled of an initial meeting.

The tutoring was also discussed with other school staff who thought it would be a good idea, with one former staff member testifying that Redgate had a sterling reputation from his teaching days.

H.N. and Redgate met once a week at school to work on his novel. In March 2000, the student also began to go to the tutor’s house, and their in-school sessions ceased after Grade 6.

Redgate initially sat across a table from H.N. but moved closer over time so their arms could touch. Redgate also started showing up at H.N.’s sporting games, prompting his parents to alert Haisell, who confronted the tutor before the former teacher stopped attending.

By the time H.N. was in Grade 7, Redgate began saying he’d have nothing to live for without H.N. in his life, and he started making threats of self-harm. H.N. testified he was continuously manipulated into feeling bad for Redgate.

The tutor began telling H.N. about his sexual experiences. Around that time, he’d ask if the child shared romantic feelings for him. Redgate then started to kiss H.N. when they hugged at the end of tutor sessions. He’d also have the boy lie on him while erect, which H.M. found disgusting, and the boy also had to refuse Redgate’s requests for oral sex.

The court heard that H.N. felt responsible for ensuring Redgate didn’t try to end his life, and he ended the abuse when he was 15 or 16.

A claim for punitive damages – meant to punish and deter misconduct – was denied by the judge, who said the remedy couldn’t be achieved in part because Redgate is dead.

READ: Father leads Saanich walk to renew focus on Lindsay Buziak’s unsolved murder

Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
Read more