B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. Black Press file photo.

Three civil cases alleging sexual assault by former B.C. RCMP officer to go forward

Donald Cooke was AAA minor hockey coach of two alleged victims

Three alleged victims of sexual assault will have their cases heard together in a civil lawsuit against a former Abbotsford RCMP officer and AAA minor hockey coach.

Robert Callan, Thomas Thiessen and Travis Piers claim they were sexually assaulted by Donald Cooke between 1982 and 1985 when they were minors. Cooke was stationed with the Abbotsford RCMP detachment and was coaching the city’s AAA minor hockey team during this period.

The three plaintiffs are also seeking damages against the Attorney General of Canada, claiming the office is liable for the actions of Cooke, as he was an RCMP officer during these alleged assaults. The attorney general denies the allegations in relation to Cooke and any potential liability from his actions.

Callan and Piers were both hockey players under Cooke’s tutelage. They say that Cooke cultivated a relationship with them with the intention of sexually assaulting them.

Thiessen did not play hockey under Cooke, but similarly claims the defendant cultivated a relationship with him and his parents for the same sexual purposes as the other two plaintiffs.

All claim to be sexually assaulted in Cooke’s police vehicle, among other locations.

Bob Mostar, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, initially filed Callan’s civil claim against Cooke and the attorney general in 2011, followed by Thiessen’s in 2015, and Piers’ in 2019.

RELATED: Two men allege sex abuse by former Abbotsford Mountie, who denies claims

RELATED: Abbotsford Police ordered to turn over records

Cooke was previously under RCMP investigation, from 2004 to 2009, after Callan, Piers, and two others former players came forward claiming sexual assault while they were being coached by him in the 1980s. He was arrested by RCMP officers in 2005, but Crown counsel later dismissed the charges, citing a lack of evidence.

An application to dismiss the three civil cases by Cooke’s lawyer – on grounds that the RCMP never charged him with a crime and the delay in bringing the cases before the courts since their initial filings – was denied by Justice Christopher Hinkson on March 3.

Hinkson said, because of significant trauma suffered by victims of sexual assaults, the delay was reasonable. His decision cited the plaintiffs’ affidavits explaining psychological stress.

“I had a great deal of difficulty bringing myself to a decision to finally initiate and permit the filing of the action,” Thiessen’s affidavit says. “I instructed my solicitor to pause on the process of the lawsuit as my psychological state would not permit me to address the issues and I did not feel psychologically strong enough to move forward.”

Cooke has previously denied the allegations of his four former players, claiming they were kicked off the team in 1985 because it was discovered they were in possession of stolen equipment.

Cooke also filed a lawsuit of his own against the RCMP, seeking $13.5 million in damages, claiming mistreatment during their investigation into the claims.

In his suit against the RCMP, Cooke pointed to two polygraph tests from 2005 and 2006, where the tester stated he was “conclusively telling the truth.” The parties reached a settlement in 2015, where Cooke won a lump-sum payment and would be eligible for his RCMP pension.

A civil case was previously brought against Cooke by Mostar in 2005, representing another alleged victim from Abbotsford. Graeme Wilson claimed he was arrested by Cooke in connection to an arson of his family’s residence and coerced into sexual favours between 1983 and 1986 in exchange for the charges being dropped.

Cooke’s defence argued the three cases should be heard by a judge separately, allowing the evidence from each case to be based on its individual merits.

Hinkson decided the evidence will be heard by a trial judge, and it will be up to that judge’s discretion whether the cases will be tried together.

[CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated Cooke was stationed with the Matsqui RCMP detachment – it was the Abbotsford RCMP detachment.]

– with files from Vikki Hopes

Cops and Courtssexual abuse

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New city hall, four-storey development proposed for Rossland

The building would include 37 affordable housing units

Deadline approaching for Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre request for proposals

Applicants have until April 10 to submit their proposals for the project

Castlegar hospice director says COVID-19 measures make serving the dying heartbreaking

Social distancing brings big challenges to offering support

Slocan Valley craft distiller wading through obstacles to help fight COVID-19

From raw materials to licences to bottles, getting production ramped up has been a challenge

Rossland Public Library changes delivery service model due to COVID-19 pandemic

The library physically shut down on March 17, but online services always available.

From inside the ER: B.C. doctor tells it like it is from the frontlines of COVID-19

‘Stay home. It’s working,’ says ER doctor in a Q&A discussion, ‘And please don’t worry.’

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Dogs are property, not kids, B.C. judge tells former couple

Court decision made on competing lawsuits over Zeus and Aurora — a pit bull and pit bull cross

B.C. senior gives blood for 200th time, has ‘saved’ 600 lives

There was no cutting of cake for Harvey Rempel but he’s challenging youth to start donating blood

Trudeau commits $100M to help food banks amid COVID-19 crisis

Funds will help ‘urgent food needs’ for Canadians awaiting federal emergency benefits to kick in

Couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas: Cowichan by-law

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

How well can cell phones carry COVID-19? Disinfecting may be wise

‘You want to keep it as clean as you would normally your hands’

Most Read