Ben Hoffman

Ben Hoffman

Ben Hoffman was chosen as a member of Justice Normand Glaude’s Advisory Panel for the Cornwall Public Inquiry.

The panel is supposed to be “free from any conflict of interest.”  Hoffman, however – witness the bio below – spent years working for the Ontario Ministry of Correctional Services, an “institution” heavily implicated in allegations of cover-up.

Hoffman was also instrumental in developing and negotiating what can only be described as a disastrous mediation and reconciliation process between Helpline (victims from the Christian Brothers operated boys’ training schools in Alfred and Uxbridge, Ontario), the Christian Brothers from the respective schools, the Archdioceses of Toronto and Ottawa, and the Government of Ontario.


Hoffman Bio

From New Math for Humanity website

Dr. Hoffman’s professional career began thirty years ago when he joined the Ontario Ministry of Correctional Services and quickly rose to the position of Deputy Regional Director. He was directly involved in managing a hostage taking incident and was trained as a hostage negotiator, then as a mediator. From those early beginnings Ben ‘s focus has been on justice issues, always striving to integrate theory and practice. Consequently, Ben has lived the philosophy of continuous learning, having completed a BA in Psychology and Philosophy from Wilfred Laurier University, then returning to university on several occasions over the span of his career to complete an MA in Psychology from Wilfred Laurier University, a second MA in International Relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a Specialization from Harvard in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution with a concentration in International Peacemaking, and a Ph.D. from the University of York, UK, where his thesis was on Peacebuilding.

From the Ministry of Corrections, Ben moved into private practice, combining his interest in clinical and organizational counseling. He co-founded the first rural program in Canada for men who abuse women, and pursued his commitment to reconciliation and healing as Secretary, National Associations Active in Criminal Justice. During the 80s, at NAACJ he represented Canadian NGOs in UN efforts, focusing on large-scale victimization and justice in post-colonial societies.

In 1989, Ben founded Concorde Inc., which was a leader in introducing Alternative Dispute Resolution services to the corporate and public sectors in Canada. Convinced of the value of theory-informed practice in negotiation and mediation, Ben co-founded with Senator Douglas Roche and others, the Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiation in 1990.

CIIAN became recognized nationally in the early 90s, and then internationally, as an institution that developed as well as offered training programs integrating the personal, the theoretical, and the practical skill dimensions of negotiation and mediation.

From 90 to 95 Ben played a key role in the mediated settlement of complaints of physical and sexual abuse made by men against Orders of the Roman Catholic Church and the Government of Ontario.

From 95 to 2000, Ben was closely affiliated with the Pearson Peacekeeping Training Centre, directing the program on peacekeeping negotiation and mediation; and he worked abroad, providing peacebuilding services in war-torn societies.

In 2000, he accepted the position of Director of the Conflict Resolution Program at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to directing a multi-country program, as President Carter’s representative, Ben was extensively engaged in efforts to bring an end to the nineteen year civil war in Sudan, and to implement a peace agreement between Sudan and Uganda.

At present, in addition to launching NewMathforHumanity, Ben is conducting research on organized violence as a Senior Fellow at The Fletcher School, and is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Victoria where he will present a multidisciplinary graduate seminar on “waging peace.”


Hoffman and Roche

Hoffman, along with Canada’s former Ambassador for Disarmament, former Roman Catholic journalist and more recently former Senator, Doug Roche, devised and mediated the reconciliation model for victims (Helpline) from St. John’s Training School in Alfred, Ontario, a facility close to Cornwall, Ontario operated by the Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic lay order.

The first victim to seek justice for the physical and sexual abuse he had endured at the Alfred training school was David McCann.  McCann was eager to have an inquiry commissioned.  However after McCann retained Roger Tucker (Roche’s former son-in-law) and with Tucker’s assistance set up Helpline he apparently slowly began to conclude that mediation was a better solution than either an inquiry or civil litigation. That decision was apparently firmed up when Tucker was demanding payment for Helpline’s escalating legal costs and Ronald Caza, a lawyer for the Ottawa branch of the Christian Brothers, suggested Church and government officials might kick in funds – IF Helpline ceased its calls for an inquiry.

The calls for an inquiry ceased.

Roche saw the Caza offer as breakthrough.  A number of Helpline members saw it as a sell out.

At a later date when a reporter asked about a public inquiry Roche responded: “The participants do not want a public inquiry.”

Originally the mediation process modeled by Roche and Hoffman was to include the Christian Brothers of St. John’s School in Uxbridge.  A number of victims from St. John’s were members of Helpline, an organization set up by McCann and Tucker for victims of the Christian Brothers at Alfred and Uxbridge.  The brothers from Uxbridge however pulled out of the mediation process.

Approximately 400 victims from both schools were involved to varying degrees in the mediation process. Those who signed on to the final agreement gave up their right to sue.

According to Boys Don’t Cry, “Hoffman was behind the scenes all along “advising Helpline’s lawyer Roger Tucker on the possibilities of a mediated settlement and briefing Roche on the process.”  Hoffman was officially brought on board as Roche’s consultant in mid-February 1991.

The process started in 1990.  It was completed in 1995.  Many victims were upset with the tumultuous process, the time it took to finally reach an agreed  settlement and the settlements themselves which in most cases amounted to a few thousand dollars or less.


The Criminal Dimension to St. John’s Training School in Alfred

Rumours and reports of physical and sexual abuse of young boys were such that on 01 June 1967 Dr. Morton Shulman asked Correctional Services Minister Allan Grossman to comment on a magazine report that referred to St. Joseph’s training school as a “hell-hole” filled with sadists and homosexuals.

The lead investigator into reports of physical and sexual abuse at Alfred was Kingston OPP  detective Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Det. Insp. Tim Smith. He was assisted by, amongst others, Det. Const. Ron Wilson.

The Crown attorney was L’Orignal Crown attorney Robert Pelletier.

Cornwall Crown attorney Murray MacDonald prosecuted and lost the sex abuse trial against Réjean Nadeau (known as Brother Rhéal in the late 60s).  Nadeau had a Master’s Degree in Criminology and in 1992 was French-language co-ordinator for the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services (correctional services.)


“Vision to Reconcile”

The following information is drawn from “Vision to Reconcile,” a joint September 1993 report issued by Hoffman and Roche on the progress of the mediation process. ” Most of this ground-breaking mediation process transpired in the early 1990s, after Father Gilles Deslaurier was charged but before David Silmser reported he had been sexually abused by probation officer Ken Seguin and local priest Father Charles MacDonald (December 1992) and before the Cornwall scandal and cover-up erupted into the public domain (1994).

* When abuse occurs in institutions, the harm that is suffered often cannot be repaired by punishing the perpetrators. Other remedies, such as apologies and vocational training may actually be more important to the victims of the abuse.

* Documents indicated that Cabinet Ministers and Church officials knew of the abuse and did nothing.

* Hoffman and Roche favoured mediation between the victims and the various institutions.  Mediation, according to them, “avoids the traditional adversarial process.” It avoids the “polarized, adversarial context” of traditional litigation.  Therefore, presumably, “each participant feels that it receives something.”

* Roche and Hoffman viewed civil actions as “expensive, time-consuming, technical and limited in their scope of remedies” with no attempt at reconciliation and little room “to acknowledge that the Brothers may also be victims.”

* Assurances were sought from the  Attorney General that “nothing said nor any documents or materials provided at mediation would adversely affect an accused person.” * The process of creating a collaborative dispute resolution mechanism should not address any specific allegations or fact situations. Similar fact evidence concerns are therefore inapplicable.

* In August 1991 during a meeting in the offices of Roger Tucker’s law firm, “it was pointed out that the Helpline process had stimulated the government to appoint a committee of Deputy Ministers (from Community and Social Services, Solicitor General, Health and the Ontario Women’s Directorate and chaired by the Deputy Attorney General) to conduct an intense internal examination into the scope of sexual abuse in Ontario provincial institutions.”

*  “ Helpline was breaking a path to help the government decide whether reconciliation should supplant the courts as a means of dealing with the emerging and spreading problem of sexual abuse.”

* Hoffman’s background was dealing with battered women.  When he was called in to assist Roche in dealing with men who had been physically and sexually abused as boys by Roman Catholic priests and brothers he relied on the “sensitivities” he had developed in working with “men who batter.”

* Hoffman saw the overall objective of the reconciliation agreement as “reconciliation and healing.”

* “Blaming behaviour” was to be avoided.  The focus was to be “on the future.”

* Participation by all involved parties (Archdiocese’s of Ottawa and Toronto), the Christian Brothers of Uxbridge and Alfred, the Government of Ontario, Helpline (the victims) “was not an admission of guilt” but a “moral responsibility” where “the focus would be on the future, on healing and reconciliation rather than on the past, on culpability.”

* The mediated package was to include a provision “ for research on child abuse and its prevention”

* One of the over-riding goals of the mediation process was “A commitment to help eradicate abuse generally and its underlying causes.”

* “Better education of institutional staff and the general public would allow earlier detection and more appropriate governmental and Church responses.”


Survey of Victims of Historical Sexual Abuse

Justice Normand Glaude’s “framing” of the Cornwall Public Inquiry with testimony from “expert” witnesses showed that law enforcement officials, government agencies and institutions had a profound lack of knowledge, understanding and education regarding historical sexual abuse and the impact of that abuse on young boys. However government officials in Ontario have known about the impact of sexual abuse on boys since at least 1992 and since then have had ample opportunity and motive to research the problem.  Witness the following information drawn from “Vision to Reconcile.”


The Survey

A survey completed by 150 of Helpline’s 300 active members revealed that

65 percent of students claimed to have been sexually assaulted less than 10 times;

24 percent more than 10 times.

In the general area of assault,

96 percent said they were assaulted less than 10 times;

66 percent more than 10 times.

The subsequent life of these students has been problem- plagued;

75 percent have served time in prison;

44 percent have never earned more than $20,000 per year;

79 percent have recurring nightmares of what happened at school;

53 percent have sexual problems;

23 percent are under psychiatric care;

77 percent have had severe matrimonial problems;  none has a university degree and

 91 percent claimed that their education had seriously suffered while at school.

most of the respondents had included written comments at the end of the questionnaire, saying that their main concern was to prevent abuse happening to anyone else


Ben Hoffman’s analysis of the completed survey:

97 percent of the men surveyed said that they had been physically assaulted;

81 percent had been severely assaulted;

66 percent had been sexually assaulted; and

49 percent had been severely sexually assaulted.

The abuse happened quite frequently, with many reporting more than 11 incidents and virtually all describing themselves as living in a state of fear of assault.

Nearly 50 percent indicated that they had been severely sexually assaulted.

The average age of the students was twelve-and-a-half when they were first abused.

In total, 124 perpetrators were named, many more than once, if not several times.

One perpetrator was named 30 times by different respondents with acts spanning all categories of assault.

Upwards of 80 percent of the respondents claimed that some or all of the problems they encountered in life after leaving the training school were related to the abuse they suffered in the school.

The analysis showed that the men as a group were bitter, poor, marginalized and lacked self esteem.

Some 70 percent were unemployed,

 the average grade level was Grade 8,

many had been dysfunctional all their lives and had relied on social assistance;

83 percent had been convicted of a criminal offence;

they had very poor life skills, such as controlling anger and stress management;

many cope or have coped by drug and alcohol abuse, participating in criminal activity and some have become perpetrators themselves.

More than 60 percent had been told that they currently need and will in the future need counselling.

Note that the main concern expressed by the Helpline victims was to prevent abuse happening to anyone else. What was done to accommodate that concern as it relates to men molesting boys?

 Note too that “The negotiated mediated package was to include a provision “ for research on child abuse and its prevention.”  Was that part of the final agreement?  If yes, how much was ear-marked for research? And what research was conducted on male victims of same-sex sexual abuse?  And why was there no “expert” testimony on this research when the Cornwall Public Inquiry was being ‘framed’ by Justice Glaude?