08/27/2015 08:00 EDT | Updated 08/27/2016 01:12 EDT

Defence lawyer accused of sexually molesting vulnerable youth

A B.C. man claims he was sexually molested by a defence lawyer employed by the province's Ministry of Children and Families to represent him when he was a ward of the state.

In a B.C. Supreme Court notice of civil claim, the plaintiff, who was a young offender at the time, alleges Harold Garrett Power sexually molested him over a period of two years at locations including the New Westminster courthouse.

The plaintiff is suing Power and the Ministry of Children and Families, which he claims should have known the lawyer had a history of seeking sexual contact with children.

"The Ministry employs lawyers to represent minor children under its care who require criminal defence counsel. The Ministry assigned Power to represent the plaintiff," the notice of claim states.

"Soon after Power was retained to represent the plaintiff, Power began methodically grooming the plaintiff with the intention of sexually molesting him."

Disbarred for lying

The case isn't the first time Power has been accused of abusing the trust of a client. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail in 2009 for sexually exploiting a 14-year-old boy who he represented as duty counsel.

He was disbarred the same year for lying about his identity when he applied to join the Law Society. 

According to the Law Society decision, Power was adopted as a child by an aunt and uncle in Newfoundland who gave him the name Gary Joseph McGory.

It was under that name that he was arrested and charged in 1994 with obtaining the sexual service of a person under the age of 18.

Power was acquitted because the judge was not satisfied the small amounts of money he gave the boys he had sex with amounted to a quid pro quo.

The charge didn't show up in a Law Society background check because it was under the name McGory.

The plaintiff claims the Ministry of Child and Family Services should have dug into Power's past.

"When the Ministry engaged his services to work with children, it negligently failed to perform a sufficiently thorough background check on Power," his claim states.

"If it had, it would have been aware that Power had a history of seeking sexual contact with children."

The plaintiff says he became a ward of the state after his mother died when he was 11. He claims Power represented him in various youth justice matters from 2002 to 2006.

He says Power styled himself as a 'cool friend' to gain his trust and accuses Power of providing him with alcohol and marijuana and then molesting him. He says he was also encouraged not to trust social workers.

The claim also refers to Power's 2009 conviction.

According to court documents in that case, the former lawyer represented his 14-year-old victim several times in 2004 before inviting him to his apartment to watch pornography and drink alcohol. Power performed oral sex on the youth.

The plaintiff claims the incident happened around the same time as Power allegedly molested him and involved a victim of the same approximate age.

The ministry was unable to comment on the case while it is before the courts.