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Several men have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against Garth Bent, a former youth leader at the Church of St. Bride’s in Mississauga, Ontario, and a camp counselor at Ontario Pioneer Camp in Port Sydney. Bent pleaded guilty in 2009 to multiple counts of indecent assault and attempted indecent assault. The men have filed lawsuits against Bent and the Anglican Church of Canada, seeking a total of $19.5 million in damages. They allege that the church harbored a sexual predator and allowed him to have boys sleep over, despite knowing about his actions.

The victims described how Bent would choose a child each night to sleep in his tent, where the sexual abuse took place. They shared their experiences of fear, shame, and trauma, and explained how the abuse impacted their lives, leading to addiction, homelessness, and other struggles. Despite reporting the abuse to police decades later, they expressed a lack of faith in the justice system due to Bent’s lenient sentence. Detective Bruce Thomson, who investigated the case, believes there could be more victims who have not yet come forward and encourages them to seek help.

Ontario Pioneer Camp, a Christian summer camp where some of the abuse occurred, claims they were not aware of Bent’s actions before or during his time at the camp. The camp asserts that they have always met or exceeded the relevant standards for screening and training camp staff and volunteers. The victims spoke out about the church’s knowledge of Bent’s inappropriate behavior, alleging that he was given authority and power that he abused to perpetrate the abuse.

Despite the denial of the allegations by Bent and the Anglican Church of Canada, the victims remain resolute in seeking justice through civil lawsuits. Their lawyer, Justin Linden, emphasized the importance of shedding light on what happened and holding organizations accountable for harboring abusers. Detective Thomson echoed this sentiment, stressing that more victims may still be out there and should not hesitate to come forward and share their stories. The men hope that by speaking out, they can prevent future abuse and ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions.

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