A settlement has been reached in the defamation action against a woman who made Facebook posts accusing a high-school student of sexual misconduct.
Among the provisions of the settlement, reached Aug. 3, was an admission of guilt and a written apology. The remainder of the settlement terms are not public.
The lawsuit dating back to July 2021 alleged that Emily Blanchard, a former F.H. Collins Secondary student, wrote a Facebook post stating that a male student at the school was sexually assaulting female students.
The May 6, 2021 post said that in April of that year, a classmate of the male student told other students that he had sexually assaulted her. 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 RCMP did not lay charges after investigating the incident. Blanchard was not enrolled at the school when she made the post.
The student Blanchard’s allegations were levied against is identified in court documents only by his initials, but the Facebook post used his first name. Documents state that the student’s name and photo were posted in comments of Blanchard’s post by others at first before she added them to the post itself. According to the statement of defence from Blanchard’s lawyer, she removed the name and photo and deleted the comments within hours of adding them.
Court documents state that after the post went live, the male student’s mother received a call from the school officials who said they were concerned about her son’s safety due to the post and advising him to go to class. Comments on the post threatening harm were the main driver of these concerns. Blanchard also made an addition to the post condemning the threats.
The post was removed from Blanchard’s Facebook page completely 10 days after it was initially posted.
In the written apology, provided to the News on Aug. 10, Blanchard acknowledges that she had no evidence of the truth of the statements she made about the F.H. Collins student in her post. She goes on to call the statements untrue, retracts them completely and states that she never should have made the post.
In the written statement Blanchard apologizes for the harm caused and promises not to make a similar public post again.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org