Publicly posted allegations of sexual assault at a Whitehorse high school have led to a defamation lawsuit.
Documents filed in Yukon Supreme Court on July 23 allege that Emily Blanchard, a graduate of F.H. Collins secondary, wrote a widely-shared Facebook post which stated that a male student at the school was sexually assaulting female students. The post gave the male student’s first name.
The May 6 post allegedly referred to the plaintiff of the lawsuit, identified by his initials, who was a Grade 9 student at the time.
The lawsuit states that Blanchard was not a student at F.H. Collins when the post was made. It says that in April, a classmate of the male student told other students that he had sexually assaulted her. The lawsuit states that the student did not sexually assault her or anyone else.
The RCMP did not lay any charges after investigating the incident in May.
The lawsuit details the claims about the male student contained in Blanchard’s post. According to the lawsuit, the post alleged that the student had committed numerous sexual assaults, was dangerous and posed a risk of future sexual assaults.
The day after the post was made public, the lawsuit says the male student’s mother received a call from school officials advising her they were concerned for her son’s safety due to the post and he should not attend class for his own safety.
According to the lawsuit, the concerns for the student’s safety were driven by comments on the post, which included threats to harm him. The lawsuit claims that Blanchard participated in the comments, inciting those who posted comments to violence and encouraging people to share the post as much as possible.
The post was removed from Blanchard’s Facebook page on May 16, but not before it was shared 116 times and received 106 comments.
The lawsuit is seeking a court order declaring that Blanchard defamed that plaintiff and that the statements in the post were libelous as well as damages and costs.
It also wants a written apology from Blanchard to be published on all her social media channels and a permanent injunction preventing her from publishing allegations of misconduct about anyone under 19 years old.
The allegations in the lawsuit have not been heard or proven in court. No statement of defence had been filed as of Aug. 4.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org