Jean Royce Hall sexual abuse case comes to a conclusion

All parties sign non-disclosure agreements

Byron Ruttan's case closed after forty years.

After experiencing more than a year of sexual abuse at the hands of former Queen’s student Kenneth Gavin Williamson over four decades ago, Byron Ruttan has finally found justice. 

Unsatisfied with the 2016 Supreme Court ruling on Williamson’s appeal of Ruttan’s case, which tossed out Williamson’s charges, Ruttan filed a lawsuit against the Ontario government in 2015.

He was seeking $2.85 million dollars from the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General on the grounds that the consequences of Williamson’s abuse have caused him severe depression, suicidal tendencies, and an inability to earn a living.

According to a Globe and Mail article about Ruttan, the lawsuit also accused the province of negligence in Williamson’s supervision and training as a court-ordered mentor.

The Ministry publicly denied responsibility.

That lawsuit has now concluded, and all parties have signed a non-disclosure agreement. Neither Ruttan or his lawyer, Simona Jellinek, can discuss how the lawsuit ended, including whether Ruttan received anything from the Province. However, Jellinek told The Globe the case is “over to the satisfaction of all parties.” 

The lawsuit ended before a new law came into effect that, according to The Globe,  many personal-injury lawyers feel gives the Province immunity from similar negligence lawsuits. In a case like Ruttan’s, he would have had to instead sue for breach of fiduciary duty, which is a far more difficult case to make.

As previously reported by The Journal in 2018, Ruttan’s life was difficult from a young age. After his father left his family when he was three years old, he grew up with his mother and sisters in poverty in the north end of Kingston. 

At  12, Ruttan began skipping school and stealing money from his mother. Authorities and the Children’s Aid Society intervened, and Ruttan ended up in Kingston child-protection court. In 1979, a judge found his mother unable to care for him and ordered Ruttan to accept a mentor.

Williamson was a 26-year-old student working towards a Bachelor of Education degree at Queen’s. He met Ruttan through a juvenile diversion program designed to place boys with positive male role models.

After initially meeting at Ruttan’s home, Williamson took Ruttan to his wealthy family’s home in Ottawa, and then began bringing him to his dorm room in Jean Royce Hall. 

In Jean Royce Hall, Williamson began abusing Ruttan weekly. Ruttan would stay with Williamson in Ottawa or in Jean Royce Hall three to four times per week, and Williamson consistently sexually assaulted him. In a statement Ruttan provided to the Ontario College of Teachers during a hearing on Dec. 5, 2016, Ruttan testified that anal penetration occurred more than 100 times, and oral sex 10 to 12 times. 

The abuse ended in August, 1980, when Williamson was admitted to the Ontario College of Teachers and left Kingston to study in Toronto.

Ruttan stayed silent for years, fearing homophobia or that no one would believe him. He struggled throughout his adult life, coming up against the law multiple times on charges of theft and assault. He served short stints in jail prior to 2000.

In 2009, he told his probation officer, Sue Corcoran, his story of abuse. Corcoran contacted the police, and Williamson was arrested shortly after at Gananoque Secondary School, where he worked as a teacher. He was released on bail six days later.

Williamson initially confessed he had been involved sexually with Ruttan to Detective Constable Jason Cahill, but later retracted the statement, claiming it was made out of shock.

On Dec. 20, 2011, a Kingston judge and jury found Williamson guilty of buggery, indecent assault, and gross indecency. “[Williamson] knew he was in a big brother/little brother position to Ruttan,” the trial judge said, noting that Williamson served as a role model and father figure to Ruttan.

On April 16, 2012, Williamson was sentenced to four years in prison. He appealed the conviction to the Supreme Court of Canada under newly established time limits for criminal proceedings. According to Section 11(b) the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, every Canadian charged with an offence has a “right to be tried within a reasonable time.” 

Bureaucratic errors had caused two three-month delays in Williamson’s trial. The errors occurred during times when large murder trials were the focus of Kingston’s overburdened courts, according to the The Globe and Mail.

The Supreme Court didn’t dispute the facts of the case, or Williamson’s guilt, but upheld his appeal on the grounds that the 35 months between Williamson being charged and the completion of the trial was an unreasonable delay. 

Williamson’s Certificate of Qualification and Registration from the Ontario College of Teachers was revoked, and he paid a $5,000 fine imposed by an Ontario College of Teachers Discipline Committee. However, due to his victory in the Supreme Court, Williamson never served jail time. He currently receives a pension.

After disappointment with the Supreme Court ruling—Ruttan was the first crime victim in Canada to have his case thrown out after the Supreme Court’s ruling on time limits in 2016 —it was recommended to Ruttan that he reach out to Jellinek for further legal action. This time, he went after the Province.

Now, four years after Ruttan and Jellinek filed their case, it has finally concluded.

Regardless of exact figures of compensation, Ruttan told The Globe his life has improved since the conclusion of the provincial lawsuit. He lives in a new home near Napanee, with heat, paintings, and a recently-purchased TV. 

Ruttan is also able to provide for his children and grandchildren. 

“I get stuff for my kids now I never thought I’d be able to. Like stuff from Amazon,” he told Globe and Mail reporter Sean Fine in December. 

Despite Ruttan’s son’s recent request to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Justice Minister David Lametti that they reinstate charges against Williamson, criminal law states he cannot be charged again for the same crimes. 


child abuse, Jean Royce Hall, lawsuit, Sexual Assault

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