Sex abuse complainants suing Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh in Nova Scotia

HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia man whose sex abuse convictions were quashed by the Supreme Court of Canada is being sued by six complainants who say he inflicted a lifetime of emotional harm.

A statement of claim was filed against Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in Port Hawkesbury on Monday.

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Each complainant is seeking $300,000 in general and aggravated damages; special damages of an amount to be determined; and $50,000 in punitive damages against MacIntosh.

The court document says MacIntosh was a prominent businessman and community leader in Port Hawkesbury who "abused his position of trust, social status and wealth to repeatedly abuse the plaintiffs."

"Each of the plaintiffs was deprived of his childhood and has suffered a lifetime of emotional harm from the sexual abuse inflicted on them," the claim states.

"That harm has affected all aspects of their lives."

In an email, Daniel Naymark, one of two lawyers for the complainants, said MacIntosh was personally served with the claim at his home in Montreal.

In 2007, MacIntosh was extradited from India to face charges in Canada of indecent assault and gross indecency in connection with allegations he sexually abused boys in Cape Breton in the 1970s.

He was convicted in two separate trials of molesting four boys in Nova Scotia, but the convictions were quashed in April 2013 by Canada's top court, which ruled MacIntosh's charter right to a speedy trial was violated.

The six complainants in the lawsuit, who range in age from 56 to 64, say MacIntosh is liable for sexual battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of mental injury — allegations that have not been proven in court.

Their claim says all have suffered financially as a result of the abuse they suffered.

"The psychological impact of their abuse prevented them from pursuing post-secondary education, resulting in lower earning power than they would otherwise have enjoyed, and they have difficulty maintaining employment. Each has also incurred and/or will incur costs for mental health care."

MacIntosh, now in his mid 70s, was arrested in Nepal in 2014 after he allegedly lured a nine-year-old boy to a hotel for sex. He was convicted of sexual abuse in that country and sentenced in 2015 to seven years in prison.

He was released last year and sent back to Canada.

Naymark said the complainants successfully lobbied the Nova Scotia legislature to amend the province's Limitation of Actions Act to remove the old time limits barring civil claims for sexual abuse.

Changes to the act took effect in September 2015. Under the changes there are no time limits for claims of battery, assault and sexual misconduct, as well as for claims against persons with whom the claimant was in an intimate or dependent relationship.

"They now make use of the improved statute to seek justice by their own efforts," Naymark said. "We hope that the brave actions of these victims embolden other victims to hold their abusers to account."

It's not clear whether MacIntosh has filed a statement of defence.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 27, 2019.

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