Former UBC professor’s defamation trial to continue after appeals are dismissed

Steven Galloway may move forward with a lawsuit against a former student and others for allegedly ruining his reputation and career by tweeting and posting that he had sexually assaulted and assaulted a student who cannot be named.

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Writer and former University of British Columbia professor Steven Galloway, who was fired amid allegations that he sexually and physically assaulted a student, has won and partially won a series of appeals brought by those he is suing for defamation.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal on Wednesday released its pre-trial ruling on a series of appeals and cross-appeals resulting from a 2021 pre-trial ruling in a lower court. It allows Galloway to move forward with a lawsuit suing his alleged victim and other defendants in which he claims they defamed him on social media and ruined his reputation and career.

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The reasons for sentencing, signed by the three appeal judges, Justice Elizabeth Bennett, Justice Anne MacKenzie and Justice Peter Voith, dismissed the appeals of the alleged victim, who can only be identified as AB due to a publication ban. , and seven other people who worked at UBC.

Galloway also appealed or cross-appealed parts of the 2021 ruling and managed to appeal some aspects in five of eight parts. That included the Court of Appeals overturning a Supreme Court decision that ruled that comments AB made in 2015, when she “verbally published defamatory statements” to other defendants, were dismissed from the lawsuit because too much time had passed when she made comments and filing of Galloway’s lawsuit.

In a statement issued Wednesday through his attorney, Galloway said: ““I am relieved and grateful that this matter is going to trial…The allegations made against me, and repeated as truth by the defendants in this case, are false.”

AB’s lawyer, David Wotherspoon, called the sentence “unfortunate” in an email.

“It leaves us extremely concerned about the impact on survivors of sexual violence and, in particular, students, staff and faculty at universities and colleges who may feel less safe coming forward with their concerns,” she said.

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He said he has not read the ruling in its entirety and will decide next steps after speaking to AB.

The defendants requested that the lawsuit be dismissed under the Public Participation Protection Act (PPPA), which is intended to protect people from lawsuits brought simply to silence or punish a critic and known as anti-SLAPP laws. , or strategic demands against public participation.

Galloway’s attorney, Dan Burnett, said in an email that in the ruling the Court of Appeals “regrets that anti-SLAPP laws have been used to make lengthy and costly requests, contrary to the aspirations behind the legislation, which is to avoid delays and expense. The action was filed more than five years ago and has been delayed too long in this anti-SLAPP process.”

As the lower court judge did, the Court of Appeal justices emphasized that “this court does not prejudge the ultimate merits of Mr. Galloway’s claim or the defenses that have been raised,” as that will be determined at trial.

The appeal ruling was to determine, without doing a “deep analysis” of the evidence, whether the defendants’ comments could be considered to be of “strong public interest” and therefore permissible under the PPPA.

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Galloway, who is in his 40s, was removed from his position as a full professor and chair of UBC’s creative writing program in 2015 after what were publicly described as “serious allegations” were made against him.

A report by a retired judge concluded that Galloway had had a consensual relationship with AB, but Galloway was fired in 2016 due to an “irreparable breach of trust.”

Galloway says he has not published any more books since and claims that because of the defamatory statements, he cannot write and cannot be published.

UBC later paid Galloway $167,000 in damages after an arbitrator determined that certain university communications violated his privacy and damaged his reputation. She was awarded an additional $60,000 in damages for the continued violation of her privacy.

Galloway filed his defamation lawsuit in 2018 and AB and a dozen other defendants responded by filing the anti-SLAPP petition.

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