After the primary plaintiff, Eleanor Lindsay, came forward in 2019 to share her story of sexual assault and solitary confinement at two adolescent protection centres in the 1970s, a class action lawsuit was filed.
The plaintiffs are requesting punitive damages in addition to a sum of $500,000 in compensation.
A judge from Quebec’s superior court approved the class action earlier this month, allowing any person who was placed on or after October 1, 1950, in a centre pursuant to a youth protection law, who was subject to measures (such as solitary confinement, subject to the use of force), or who was sexually assaulted, to file a claim.
1975 stories written by former Montreal Gazette writer Gillian Cosgrove are being used to help add validity to the claims in the complaint. Gillian covertly worked as a child care instructor at a Laval adolescent reception centre in the 1970s, and she is soon to release a book on the abuse. Cosgrove stated that girls were punished with solitary confinement for minor offences, such as coughing, experiencing nightmares, or even sobbing, and were forced to lay in their excrement, pee, and occasionally menstrual blood for up to three or four days.”
The class action complaint names the Attorney General of Quebec as well as more than a dozen integrated health and social service centres in the province as defendants.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Lev Alexeev, says it’s hard to predict how long the case would take in court but expresses optimism that the government will accept accountability for what happened to the claimants.