CANADALAND
#766 #MeToo On Trial
How much trouble can one tweet cause? It turns out if it's about sexual assault, or even about someone else who's talking about sexual assault, it can land you stuck in court proceedings... for years.

In 2015, award-winning author and (former) UBC professor Steven Galloway became the target of a social media storm after an allegation was leveled that he had sexually assaulted a student. An allegation, Galloway has denied ever since.

But at the time, a number of both staff and students at UBC came out publicly in support of the accuser. In turn, Galloway sued them for defamation. Defendants include 20 people who tweeted, commented, or spoke about the allegations. In one case, the individual being sued simply reviewed an art show, and never even printed Galloway’s name.

Many of these defendants said this defamation suit is meant to silence sexual assault survivors, so they filed a SLAPP suit in response. Some were dismissed by a judge, others weren’t. And which were and which weren’t leads to all kinds of questions about how the legal process deals with sexual assault allegations. Meanwhile, Galloway says the SLAPP suit has delayed his ability to clear his name by years.

Is this case a path to justice for a CanLit star who was ruined by an online mob? Or does this represent the silencing of survivors and the #metoo movement?

Featured in this episode: David Wotherspoon, partner at Dentons; Hilary Young, law professor, University of New Brunswick; Glynnis Kirchmeier, defendant.

Further reading:

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Additional Music is by Audio Network

March 28, 2022
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