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

COVID-19: Quesnel’s Billy Barker Days Festival will happen but may be delayed and look different

‘It will be something different than it has been in other years,’ say organizers

COVID-19: Quesnel RCMP adjusts workers’ hours at the detachment

Police are also encouraging online reporting

B.C. Wildfire Service will expand its operations at Quesnel Airport

A new lease agreement with the City of Quesnel will allow BCWS to house additional crews at airport

COVID-19: Signs of the times

Hearts for frontline workers and social distancing reminders around Quesnel

COVID-19: Quesnel considers its most vulnerable

City in contact with the shelter and B.C. Housing to ensure well-being of homeless during pandemic

‘We don’t need this right now’: B.C. man breaks up road rage incident

Two men were throwing punches on Tillicum Road in Saanich on Vancouver Island

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

Teamsters Canada wants feds, provinces to put pressure on facilities to re-open for transport workers

B.C. unveils $3.5M COVID-19 emergency fund for post-secondary students

Money will help students cover living expenses, food, travel, portable computers

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

COVID-19: ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’ recorded and released

LISTEN: Quick turnaround for song penned by B.C. Order of Canada musician Phil Dwyer

B.C. adding $300 to monthly income and disability assistance payments

‘Crisis supplement’ for COVID-19 for April, May and June

Migrant worker advocates blame feds, employers for COVID-19 outbreak at B.C. garden store

Migrant farm worker group calls on government for adequate health and safety requirements

Most Read