F.H. Collins Secondary. (Jim Elliot/Yukon News)

F.H. Collins Secondary. (Jim Elliot/Yukon News)

Defence launched by woman who allegedly posted damaging sexual assault allegations

Documents claim allegations against high school student based on facts, considered fair comment.

A Yukon woman accused of defamation, after a Facebook post accusing an F.H. Collins Secondary student of sexual assault was widely circulated, denies the allegations.

A statement of defence on behalf of Emily Blanchard was filed with the Yukon Supreme Court on Aug. 13. In late July she was accused of defamation in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a high school student, identified only by his initials in court documents. It is alleged that a May 6 Facebook post by Blanchard said the student, in Grade 9 at the time, had committed multiple sexual assaults at the school and identified him by his first name. The lawsuit also says that comments on the post led to concerns for the student’s safety.

An RCMP investigation in May did not result in any charges.

The statement of defence says the comments in her post are based on true facts and are fair comments protected by qualified privilege. It also says the post was a part of Blanchard’s advocacy against abuse of women and girls and that she took action to counter comments on the post threatening violence against the student.

According to the statement of defence, Blanchard heard about “various issues affecting the safety of female students at F.H. Collins High School,” from friends during April and May 2021.

Blanchard’s May 6 post is characterized as a summary of what she learned from those friends in the statement of defence. It states that the initial version of the post did not contain the F.H. Collins student’s first name. It goes on to say that the student’s name and a photo were posted in comments of Blanchard’s post at first before she added them to the post itself. According to the statement of defence, she removed the name and photo and deleted the comments within hours of adding them.

The statement of defence also says that Blanchard added the following to the post in response to comments threatening violence:

“I don’t believe violence will solve this in any form, this child needs help mentally and getting violent will NOT solve this problem.”

The case has not been heard in court yet.

Contact Jim Elliot at jim.elliot@yukon-news.com