A BC man who was forced to take a prison tour when he was a teenager as punishment for a crime and was raped by inmates during the experience will receive $175,000 as a result, after a BC Supreme Court ruling this week.
The ruling comes as a result of a case that was filed by the victim, identified in court documents as B.E.S, who is now 54 years old.
According to court documents, B.E.S was sexually assaulted while on a tour of Oakalla prison – a penitentiary in Burnaby that no longer exists – in the late 1970s, as part of what was deemed a “Scared Straight” tour.
That tour was the result of break-and-enter that B.E.S has committed at a home, after one of his school friends dared him and two others to break into a house and steal whatever they could.
After a first failed-attempt to break in, B.E.S and his friends returned to the same home the next day, where they “drank orange juice” and successfully stole a large television.
The police were alerted to the break-in and apprehended B.E.S. and his friends almost immediately. A police officer took B.E.S. home, where his mother, upset at the news of her son, “banned” him from socializing with his friends.
B.E.S. had to go to court as a result of his apprehension, and it was here that the judge mentioned that there was a “scared straight” program for these type of crimes and asked his parents if they would allow him to participate.
B.E.S. said his parents agreed but admitted he had no idea what a “scared straight” program was.
A few months after his court appearance, B.E.S. was picked up from home by a female probation officer who drove him to Oakalla.
Upon their arrival, they entered through the main entrance and walked down a hall. He was told to sit down in a room to the left while the probation officer talked to a guard. This guard then “grabbed him” and walked him up one or two flights of stairs, according to court documents.
At the top of the stairs, they turned right. The guard who was escorting B.E.S. told another guard, who was seated at a desk, to leave.
B.E.S. said at that point, there were five inmates standing around and guard proceeded to push B.E.S. into a cell with them and lock the door, telling B.E.S. they were going to show him what prison was like.
The inmates then proceeded to take turns raping him — causing B.E.S “extreme pain.”
Eventually, the guard opened the door and pulled him out of the cell, then took B.E.S. outside, across the parking lot and down some stairs. He opened a door to an area where there were four or five cells.
The guard pushed B.E.S. into one of the cells and locked him in for a period of time. When the guard eventually let him out, he was pushed against a wall and told no one would ever believe his story. B.E.S and the guard then walked him up a set of stairs, where he was met by his probation officer and driven home.
The incident has been detailed in court documents made public after the ruling.
Located in Burnaby, Oakalla – renamed Lower Mainland Regional Correctional Centre in 1970 – closed on June 30, 1991 and become the site of a new housing development.
Before its closure however, the prison conducted numerous youth tours between 1978 and 1981, according to court documents. These tours regularly included teens being left alone, locked in dark cells, and made to suffer various forms of abuse.
In handing down her decision, Justice Jennifer Duncan wrote that she found that that B.E.S. was sexually assaulted by several inmates at Oakalla prison due to the actions of a corrections officer and that the Province is vicariously liable for the actions of the unknown officer.
B.E.S was awarded $150,000 in non-pecuniary damages and $25,000 for the cost of future care.