Byron Ruttan presses civil claim against Ontario decades after experiencing child abuse in Jean Royce Hall

Nearly 40 years later, complainant seeking $2.85 million from province

Kingston’s Frontenac County courthouse where Williamson was tried in 2011.
Credit: 
Journal File photo

This article details sexual violence and child abuse and may be triggering for some readers.

Child abuse victim Byron Ruttan will wait another year to see the province in court after a judge recently set the trial date for his civil claim for Sept. 23, 2019.

As a 12-year-old in 1979 and 1980, Ruttan was sexually assaulted over 50 times by 26-year-old Queen’s student Kenneth Gavin Williamson, according to a criminal court’s findings.

Ruttan is seeking $2.85 million from the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney-General, claiming the consequences of the rapes have caused severe depression, suicidal behaviour, and inability to earn a living.

The Ministry denied responsibility, even if the sexual abuse did damage Ruttan’s quality of life.

In 1979, Ruttan was 12 and living with his mother and sisters in the economically-depressed north end of Kingston. 

Authorities and the Children’s Aid Society intervened after Ruttan began skipping school and stealing money from his mother’s purse.

Earning his Bachelor of Education degree at the time, Williamson volunteered as Ruttan’s mentor through a juvenile diversion program that placed boys with positive male role models.

A judge found Ruttan’s mother was unable to care for him by herself, considering that Ruttan’s father left when he was three. The judge ordered Ruttan to accept Williamson as his mentor as an alternative to criminal court or state care.

After Ruttan and Williamson met at Ruttan’s home, Williamson took him to his wealthy parents’ home in Ottawa. He eventually took Ruttan to his dormitory in Jean Royce Hall, where he began to abuse him.

The abuse, which began in the fall of 1979 and occurred on a weekly basis, ended in August of 1980, shortly after Williamson was admitted to the Ontario College of Teachers.

In his statement to the Ontario College of Teachers during a hearing on Dec. 5, 2016, Ruttan testified anal penetration occurred over 100 times and oral sex occurred 10 to 12 times.

Ruttan also testified he stayed over at Williamson’s parents’ house or in Williamson’s dorm room three to four times per week.

Fearing he’d be perceived as gay, or that no one would believe him, Ruttan remained silent until 2009, when he told his probation officer, Sue Corcoran.

Corcoran contacted the police, who then arrested Williamson on Jan. 6 at Gananoque Secondary School where he worked as a full-time teacher. Although he was released on bail six days later, Williamson initially admitted to Detective Constable Jason Cahill he’d been involved in some sexual activity with Ruttan.

Although he later claimed he made this statement out of shock, a Kingston judge and jury found Williamson guilty of buggery, indecent assault, and gross indecency on Dec. 20, 2011.

According to court documents, the trial judge said it “was admitted by Williamson that he knew he was in a big brother/little brother position to Ruttan, much like the Big Brother organization” and that Williamson was “a father figure” and “a role model.”

“It was clear on the evidence that Williamson enjoyed a privileged position in life compared to that of Ruttan,” the trial judge said.

Williamson was sentenced to four years in prison on Apr. 16, 2012.

However, all three counts were overturned after he appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada claiming the 35 months that took his trial from charge to completion was an unreasonable delay.

The Supreme Court didn’t dispute the findings of facts in the case or question Williamson’s guilt. Williamson’s appeal was upheld, and he never served jail time.

The Ontario College of Teachers in Toronto revoked his Certificate of Qualification and Registration before a Discipline Committee panel on Dec. 5, 2016. The Committee also imposed a fine of $5,000 on Williamson and costs of $10,839 and published a summary of the hearing, which included his name, in Professionally Speaking, the official publication of the College.

Williamson wasn’t present at the hearing, nor was he represented. He currently receives a pension and no longer teaches in Ontario.

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