• Rob Hornberger

Updated: Secrecy surrounds fate of $3.85-million Kissner lawsuit

Updated: Jan 23

Court case dismissed by consent, town and plaintiff's lawyer refuse to say if a settlement was reached
A lawsuit filed in early 2020 by one of former fire chief Bob Kissner's sex abuse victims alleged the town was either "willfully blind" to Kissner's conduct or failed to sufficiently investigate allegations against the chief and report those allegations to police.

The lawsuit launched against former fire chief Bob Kissner and the Town of Kingsville by one of Kissner’s sexual abuse victims was dismissed by consent earlier this month but each side of the legal dispute is refusing to say if a financial settlement was reached.

“No comment,” said London lawyer Rob Talach, when asked if a settlement was part of the agreement to end the lawsuit.

Town of Kingsville CAO John Norton gave the same answer, citing a non-disclosure agreement.

“The dismissal of (the lawsuit) is connected to an obligation not to discuss so I’m unable to really share anything,” he said.

The town's insurance company handled the case for the town of Kingsville.

Both Talach and Norton refused to say which side asked for the non-disclosure agreement.

The victim, referred to as T.A.W. in the lawsuit, was seeking nearly $4 million in damages from the town and Kissner.

In the statement of claim, the plaintiff — who worked at the fire department as a co-op student to fulfil his high school community services hours — alleged Kissner used his position of authority and trust as fire chief to cultivate a close personal relationship with the student that led to ongoing sexual abuse.

The victim also alleged the town either denied the existence of Kissner’s conduct or was “willfully blind” to it, failing to sufficiently investigate allegations against the chief and failing to reported those allegations to police.

The lawsuit, filed in February 2020, sought $3.85 million in damages for pain and suffering and loss of income as well as punitive damages.

It said the victim suffered from drug and alcohol addiction, depression, anxiety and had attempted suicide.

Kissner, who was appointed fire chief in 1995, was arrested in December 2016 on 17 charges involving sexual assault, sexual interference or sexual exploitation against eight alleged victims.

He was found guilty in April 2019 on nine charges involving four victims — a firefighter and three students who worked at the firehall. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Because of the conviction, Kissner has been placed on a sex offender registry.

Kissner was also facing another trial over two additional charges involving a second alleged victim, but the charges of sexual abuse and sexual interference were withdrawn in 2020.

Information provided by the Correctional Service of Canada said Kissner was eligible for day parole Oct. 22, 2020 and full parole April 22, 2021.

The Observer requested Kissner’s current parole status from the Parole Board of Canada, but as of Wednesday had not received a reply.

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