The former president of the Ontario Crown Attorneys’ Association resigned over his controversial payment of rehab costs for an assistant Crown attorney using the association’s credit card, documents obtained by Legal Feeds show.
Scott Rogers paid $20,000 to a medical facility for the care of an association member who showed visible signs of alcoholism, including “troubling behaviour in the work environment,” and disappeared for three days, the documents show.
The assistant Crown in question had been involved in a contested bail hearing in which the accused got out of jail and murdered someone, the documents also show.
During a fall 2013 meeting, the association’s board of directors questioned Rogers’ move to pick up the tab without first consulting the board. At the end of that meeting, the board decided to censure Rogers for his actions. But in his resignation letter, Rogers did not apologize for making the payment although he said he was wrong not to have taken the issue to the board first.
“Regarding the expenditure of association funds on urgently required medical treatment, I believe I made the correct decision,” he wrote in a letter to members. “But I improperly deprived the board of the opportunity to make that decision. It was the board’s decision to make, not mine. While in my view, the association must always be ready, able and willing to intervene in crisis situations, doing so puts us in the difficult position of being arbitrators of who is in need and who is not.
“Given what we are called upon to do every day, such emergency circumstances are not going away,” he continued. “There is a massive, untenable gap here in our benefits coverage. People who need treatment will not get it for fear of harm to their reputation or the lack of an immediate ability to pay.”
During the October 2013 board meeting, Rogers said he did not immediately go to the board for confidentiality reasons. He also said he believed the Ministry of Attorney General should cover the costs because “it was a workplace issue and the government’s moral responsibility.”
The documents show Rogers told the board there was a prior case in which rehab costs were covered by the government.
During the same meeting, board members asked Rogers if he had made the payment because he was affected by what happened to another Crown attorney who died suddenly in the middle of a high-profile inquest. In response, Rogers said it was a fair suggestion that his judgement was clouded by emotion, but he couldn’t say for sure. What happened to that Crown attorney is not specified in the documents.
Rogers declined to speak to Legal Feeds, as did Scott Childs, the current president of the Ontario Crown Attorneys’ Association.
“This is an internal matter for the Ontario Crown Attorneys Association, and involves personal and confidential information. Consequently, I have no comment,” Childs said.
Childs did say, however, that the money has now been repaid in full although he did not say by whom. The documents Legal Feeds obtained indicate Rogers paid at least half of the $20,000.
In an e-mail to Legal Feeds, Childs said the OCAA has “confirmed, through receipts, that the monies were paid to a recognized medical facility.”
When the OCAA’s board asked Childs, who was vice-president of collective bargaining at the time, if he would have signed a cheque for this matter, his response was no.
The assistant Crown returned to work after the rehab, according to the documents.