Former UBC prof files defamation suit over sexual assault allegations

Steven Galloway’s lawsuit also accuses two dozen other people of repeating the accusations on social media

The former chair of the creative writing program at the University of British Columbia is suing a woman, claiming she falsely accused him of sexual and physical assaults.

Steven Galloway’s lawsuit also accuses two dozen other people of repeating the accusations on social media.

The lawsuit filed by the novelist in the B.C. Supreme Court claims he was defamed and suffered damage to his reputation. It asks for damages and an injunction preventing the defendants from repeating the allegations, as well as having them removed from the internet.

“The defamation began with false statements by (the woman) to several other defendants, who recklessly repeated and asserted the truth of the accusations both within UBC and publicly on the internet, including on Twitter,” the statement of claim says.

Galloway was suspended from the university in November 2015 while an investigation was completed into what the school said were serious allegations of misconduct.

In December of that year, the university asked a former B.C. Supreme Court judge to investigate complaints against Galloway. Mary Ellen Boyd’s report, submitted in April 2016, has never been made public.

Galloway was fired that June.

RELATED: Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

A labour arbitration decision later ordered the university to pay Galloway $167,000 in damages for statements the school made during the process that violated his privacy rights and harmed his reputation.

However, the faculty association withdrew its claim to have Galloway reinstated to his post without giving details. The issue of whether the university had cause to dismiss the professor was no longer contested.

Galloway’s statement of claim, filed on Friday, says he had a consensual romantic affair that lasted two years with one of the defendants. The Canadian Press does not identify those who allege they have been sexually assaulted without their consent.

The statement says both were married, and their affair was adulterous. It asserts that the woman made the false allegations to “deflect blame and create a false narrative to portray herself as innocent in the affair.”

None of the allegations made in the statement of claim have been proven in court and no statements of defence have been filed.

The woman could not be reached for comment, but a lawyer who represented her previously, including during Boyd’s investigation, says no client of hers has been served with a claim.

“It appears the plaintiff took the story directly to the press,” Joanna Birenbaum said in an emailed statement.

RELATED: Complainant vs UBC prof Steven Galloway wants investigator’s report

Birenbaum directed The Canadian Press to an open letter posted online that she wrote to university president Santo Ono, asking him to release Boyd’s full report to her client.

“UBC’s refusal to disclose an unredacted copy of the Boyd Report to (the woman) is preventing her from responding to defamatory attacks on her character and causing harm and damage to her reputation,” says the letter, dated Aug. 29, 2018.

Attached to the letter were excerpts of redacted sections of the Boyd report that she received.

The document says Boyd accepted the woman’s allegations that Galloway made increasingly inappropriate sexual comments and advances towards her over a number of months in late 2010 and 2011.

“I find that (the woman) found herself in a situation where the ‘stakes were high’ since she believed that unless she tolerate this conduct, her acceptance into the MFA (master of fine arts) program and other special treatment she had been promised … might be in jeopardy,” the letter says.

Galloway’s lawyer, Daniel Burnett, said Tuesday he would ask his client if he wanted to respond to the letter.

“My only observation is that the lawsuit is about far more severe accusations,” Burnett said in an email.

Galloway said in a statement issued in November 2016, shortly after the Boyd report was released to him, that on the balance of probabilities the retired judge found he had not committed sexual assault.

In an article written for the National Post that was published in July, Galloway wrote that he did not assault his accuser, referred to as the Main Complainant or MC.

“A highly respected former B.C. Supreme Court judge, Justice Mary Ellen Boyd, after conducting an exhaustive, five-month investigation, determined that she was ‘unable to find’ that any of MC’s allegations happened, and that not a single one of the ancillary complaints constituted any form of misconduct,” he said.

The lawsuit names 24 other people for allegedly repeating the allegations of sexual and physical assault. The Canadian Press attempted to reach many of those named, although some use a pseudonym and others are only identified as John or Jane Doe.

Glynnis Kirchmeier is accused of defamation in a tweet from February of this year.

“That piece said Galloway had an ‘affair,’ which we now know is what he calls raping,” the statement of claim says of a comment on social media.

Kirchmeier said in an interview she hasn’t been served the statement of claim and she’s not concerned about the allegation.

“I don’t know how much of an economic strait he’s in, but if he thinks that one tweet justifies any sort of damages to him, I just don’t see it.”

Mandi Gray says she also hasn’t been served the document and doesn’t know what she is alleged to have done.

“I tweet a lot, so I’d have to see the actual tweets themselves,” she said, adding she has been outspoken about the way the university handled the case.

“I think it’s really concerning if we aren’t able to talk about these cases, especially when we have people in his corner speaking so loudly about due process.”

Others named in the lawsuit declined comment, while many couldn’t immediately be reached.

Galloway is the author of three novels, including “The Confabulist” and “The Cellist of Sarajevo.” He was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Burnett said if his client were to sue over every unfair statement that is in the public domain the lawsuit would involve many more people.

“He has focused this lawsuit on the most serious allegations, the allegations that are effectively criminal in nature, people who are calling him a rapist, a sexual assaulter,” he said.

Burnett said several of those named in the lawsuit have been served the statement of claim.

Terri Theodore, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Saanich resident shocked when trespasser licks security camera, rummages through mail

‘I found the situation really bizarre,’ said the Gordon Head resident

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports volunteer recruitment session planned

The Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports is a non-profit charitable society… Continue reading

Campbell River Search and Rescue to be called in to search for Kelly McLoed

If you come across a groundsearch team tomorrow, listen to them.

North Island candidates chime in on Indigenous rights

Should we adopt the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People into Canadian law?

ELECTION 2019: It’s so close, it could come down to who turns out to vote

Black Press Media’s polling analyst on the origins of predictive seat modelling in Canada

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Most Read