In a sexual abuse case the judge called the worst he'd seen in his 45
years on the bench, 77 year-old Arthur Plint was jailed for 11 years for
assaulting boys at a former residential school on Vancouver Island.
The trial brought to light harrowing tales of abuse:
How Plint, a supervisor from 1947-1968 at the federal Alberni Indian
Residential School run by the United Church, bribed children with
chocolate bars to perform oral sex on him and severely beat others late
at night, often when he was drunk.
How Plint made a boy perform oral sex on him before handing over a
letter from his mother and how the boy spent the rest of the night
crying in his bed.
How one young boy fled, only to have Plint track him down and beat him
naked in front of his classmates to prevent others from trying the same
The stopped and frail Plint pleaded guilty to the charges that involved
18 victims, aged six to 13, but showed no remorse.
At one point outside the courtroom in Port Alberni, a small lumber town
on the western edge of Vancouver Island, he angrily shook the cane he
used to support himself.
During sentencing in front of the courtroom packed with victims, their
families and supporters, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Douglas Hogarth
called Plint a "sexual terrorist".
He noted how victims who tired to complain were ignored and even
"They were prisoners in the residential school and he knew it."
The judge lambasted the federal schools, where Native children were
sent to be educated in English.
"The Indian residential school system was nothing more than
institutionalized pedophilia," he said. "Generations of children were
wrenched from their families and were brought to be ashamed to be
The charges against Plint prompted the province to investigate
widespread allegations of abuse at the 14 schools in a two-year RCMP
The charges arose from a study started in 1992 by the Nuu-chah-nulth
Tribal Council on Vancouver Island. The council's report found 130
people who had suffered some form of abuse at the three residential
schools in the area.
The inquiry is expected to hear more of the same testimony aired by
Plint's victims, many of whom asked that the publication ban on their
names be lifted. The survivors were frank and open about the abuse and
how they as adults abused alcohol and their loved ones.
One of the most eloquent was Native artist Art Thompson, 46, who last
year worked on the Victoria Commonwealth Games athletes' medals.
Wearing a ceremonial cape, cedar headdress and painted face, Thompson
told Plint in court: "I want you to look at all these human beings in
here. I want you to understand their anger. I want you to understand
Outside court, Thompson said he can't feel sorry for the aged Plint.
"He never showed us any mercy when we were children: that's the bottom
Melvin Good, whose complaints two years ago launched the criminal
investigation, said the abuse began when he was 13 , when he went to
Plint's office after hurting himself and Plint began hugging, then
The abuse continued for more than two years and Good was moved into
Plint's bedroom for most of a summer until the principal, who lived at
the school, moved him out.
Good, now 45, beat his wife and children for years before going to
counseling and facing the sexual abuse.
"The damage that has been done is unbelievable," he said. "I'm on the
healing side, but I have a long way to go."
Many of the victims have committed suicide or died of alcohol abuse.
Hogarth said he took into account the victim-impact statements that
detailed how many boys turned into abusive adults. The court heard how
many beat their wives and physically and verbally abused their
children. Two admitted to sexually abusing kids.
"I beat my wife and sent her to hospital for three months .... I hated
"I thought I was a gay person because I didn't stop him...something was
wrong with me... that I brought it on myelf....I felt angry and had low
"You hurt my people," he said. "I have family up and down the coast
that you scarred. You're a constant reminder of cultural abuse. You
tore communities apart with your acts.
"Look at these people. They are all around, the survivors."
Said Good: "I'm glad it's over now. It's a new life today."