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

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

Three civil cases alleging sexual assault by former Abbotsford RCMP officer 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

Swoop Airlines. (Contributed)
COVID-19 case reported on Abbotsford-bound flight last week

Affected flight landed in Abbotsford on Nov. 16

The Abbotsford Pilots and all other junior teams in B.C. have been paused from competition after new restrictions put in place to battle the spread of COVID-19.
Abbotsford Pilots, PJHL grounded after new restrictions

Games won’t played until after Dec. 7 at the earliest, minor hockey limited to local competition

Last year’s Realtors Care Blanket Drive collected 192 bags of warm clothing and blankets for the Abbotsford-Mission area. The 2020 version is collecting only cash donations. (File photo)
Annual Realtors Care Blanket Drive adapts to pandemic

Campaign across the Fraser Valley asks only for cash donations in 2020

Abbotsford’s Chase Claypool celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown on Sunday. (Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers)
Abbotsford’s Chase Claypool scores 10th touchdown

First wide receiver since 1960 to record 10 touchdowns in 10 games, Steelers still unbeaten

Former BC Lion Angus Reid was the keynote speaker at the 10th annual National Philanthropy Day lunch in Abbotsford on Nov. 16.
Three awards presented at National Philanthropy Day lunch

Event in Abbotsford honours those who have made a difference

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

Most Read