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North Vancouver Island school district faces sex abuse allegations

The suit alleges a Port Hardy Secondary School teacher sexually abused the child starting in 1981 or 1984.
The suit seeks, general, special, aggravated and punitive damages.

A B.C. man is alleging a Port Hardy high school teacher sexually assaulted him in the '80s, according to a new lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court this week.

In the notice of civil claim filed May 29, Joseph Michael Edward Sanderman names the Vancouver Island North School District as the defendant.

Sanderman alleges Port Hardy Secondary School teacher Gordon Bell sexually abused him starting in 1981 or 1984.

The claim asserts Bell allegedly used his position of authority to ensure the child did not report the abuse. It further alleges the district created an environment in which the abuse could occur.

The suit asserts the district failed to protect the child, failed to investigate Bell’s background, failed to have an abuse reporting system, fostered a system where reporting would be considered wrong and failed to appropriately assist the plaintiff once it became aware of the situation among multiple other claims.

The claim asserts Sanderman has suffered physical pain; post traumatic stress disorder; mental anguish, nervous shock, humiliation and degradation; shame, low self-esteem, and feelings of worthlessness; depression; anxiety; loss of enjoyment of life; addiction; suicidal ideation; mistrust of authority figures; nightmares; mistrust of men and multiple other damages.

The suit seeks, general, special, aggravated and punitive damages.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

School district chair Leightan Wishart did not return Glacier Media's call requesting comment. Repeated emails to district staff bounced back.