Parties agree on $8 million settlement in Nunavut teacher sexual abuse lawsuit

A hearing will be held at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit on June 4 to decide whether the proposed settlement will be approved. (David Gunn/CBC)

Settlement pending approval from the court

Both the plaintiffs and the government of Nunavut have agreed to an $8 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit involving Nunavut students who were sexually abused by a teacher between 1969 and 1981.

Maurice Cloughley served a 10-year sentence after pleading guilty mid-trial in 1996. Cloughley pleaded guilty to nine charges of abusing school children in several Arctic communities between 1967 and 1981. He originally faced 22 charges.

The class-action lawsuit alleges that the territorial government did not do enough to protect students from abuse and may have known about the abuse without doing anything about it.

The parties are just waiting on approval from the court. If the court approves the settlement, the Nunavut government will have to pay $8 million.

It has taken years to get to this point.

Lawyer confident case will be settled

In 2004, a lawsuit with 31 plaintiffs was filed at the Nunavut Court of Justice. In 2008, a second similar lawsuit with 32 plaintiffs was filed against the federal government and the governments of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

But the lawsuits stalled until 2015, when two law firms teamed up and combined the cases into a single new case.
Now, the lawsuit is only against the Nunavut government, said Alan Regel, one of the lawyers involved in the class action.

The government of Nunavut did not respond to interview requests from CBC by deadline.

Regel said some of the plaintiffs involved in the case have died at this point, given how many years it’s taken to proceed.

“We’re both, on both sides of the courtroom, doing our best to represent our clients.”

Regel said he’s confident the court will approve the settlement.

“At the same time, they have the responsibility to oversee it and see that proper noticing has been given,” he said.

Hearing June 4

If approved, the settlement would pay $2 million plus tax and expenses in legal fees and award $15,000 to each of the representative plaintiffs and pay for the administration of the settlement.

Regel said the funds would be divided between class members on the basis of their injuries, up to $250,000 on any individual class member’s claim.

A hearing to approve the settlement will be held in the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit on June 4.

-With files from TJ Dhir

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Class action lawsuit on behalf of Nunavik crime victims gets the go-ahead, CBC News

Finland: Police response times up to an hour slower in Arctic Finland, Yle News

United States: Violence Against Women bill would expand power of up to 30 Alaska tribal courts, Alaska Public Media

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