Ken Estabrooks may have abused more than 260 victims: investigators
A former Saint John police officer is on track to become the most prolific sex abuser in Canadian history.
Private investigators believe Kenneth Estabrooks may have abused more than 260 victims and both the city and investigation company are urging people to come forward.
“Our master investigative list consists of 263 individuals we believe were exposed to and possibly sexually assaulted by Ken Estabrooks,” says investigator Laura Bradbury, who describes the former Saint John police sergeant as a sadistic offender.
Estabrooks was convicted in 1999 of indecent assault against four young people between 1957 and 1982 and served a six-year prison sentence.
More alleged victims have come forward in recent years and on Monday a private investigation company hired by the city of Saint John released the numbers, which they say may continue to climb.
“We have disclosures of sexual victimizations by Ken Estabrooks from 53 survivors and information for 33 individuals who are now believed to be deceased,” says Bradbury, of the Toronto-based Investigative Solutions Network.
“This will leave a footprint in Canada and in this community for a long time,” says investigator Dave Perry. “There are decades of survivors and devastation that now need to be dealt with.”
Allegations against Estabrooks first surfaced in 1975 when he was a 22-year veteran of the Saint John Police Force.
He resigned immediately when confronted with the allegations of two teenaged boys but no charges were laid.
After new complainants came forward in 1997, another investigation began that ended with Estabrooks being convicted of indecent assault on four of his six accusers.
The new allegations have not been proven in court, but the city is offering counselling services to anyone who alleges they were a victim.
“You should know you are not alone,” says Saint John Mayor Mel Norton. “We are here. We are listening and we want nothing more than to offer support.”
Estabrooks died in 2005. Perry says some of his alleged victims are happy he is gone but others wish justice could be served.
“It does add a complication to it,” says Perry. “For me personally, I would prefer that he was alive so that he could be prosecuted.”
The investigation is expected to take anywhere from six to 12 months.
So far the city is only offering counselling services to the alleged victims but a Halifax law firm is working on a class-action lawsuit.
Norton would not comment on whether the city would be offering compensation.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Ashley Dunbar and The Canadian Press