Mandi Gray has launched a fundraiser after she and others were sued by Steven Galloway. Photo by Chris Young/The Canadian Press
One of the defendants in a defamation case filed by former University of British Columbia professor and author Steven Galloway has launched a fundraising campaign for herself and other women being sued over reporting sex assault allegations.
York University student Mandi Gray launched the “Silence Breakers Legal Defense Fund” Wednesday. The crowdfunder will support Gray, Galloway’s accuser, who is not being named and who is also being sued by him, and a former Yukon College student who is being sued by her former instructor after she alleged he sexually assaulted her.
“I created this fund to raise money for the defendants and to raise awareness of this growing problem. These lawsuits are devastating for the individuals being sued but also contribute to the chilling of public discourse about sexual violence,” says the GoFundMe description. “Such lawsuits may deter future individuals who experience sexual violence from seeking support and/or reporting.”
Galloway, who wrote the best-selling book The Cellist of Sarajevo, is suing A.B.—the woman who accused him of sexual assault—Gray and 18 others after he was fired from his job as head of the UBC’s creative writing program in 2016.
The high profile case was highly contentious, with dozens of authors including Margaret Atwood penning an open letter condemning UBC’s public statements about Galloway, which they said failed to give him due process.
Galloway was first suspended, then terminated, after UBC brought in a retired judge to conduct an investigation, which found “a record of misconduct that resulted in an irreparable breach of the trust placed in faculty members.”
He successfully sued the university for $167,000 for violating his privacy and harming his reputation.
Galloway is suing Gray over a series of tweets in which she discussed the case and criticized UBC’s handling of it.
The lawsuit says Gray’s statements were “understood to mean… that the plaintiff raped, sexually assaulted, and committed violence upon A.B.”
Gray told VICE News she and several other defendants have filed motions to have the lawsuits against them dismissed under Ontario’s anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) legislation.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association describes SLAPP lawsuits as being “directed against individuals or organizations, in order to silence and deter their public criticisms and advocacy for change.”
Gray said she started the crowdfunder in part because her name isn’t barred by a publication ban, unlike A.B. and the former Yukon student, so she can speak out.
“It makes it really challenging to fundraise if you can’t even identify yourself as the person in this case,” she said.
She said while there is a lot of discussion around encouraging reporting of sexual assaults but not as much talk about the backlash, including when alleged victims get sued.
Recently, VICE News reported on a Regina, Saskatchewan teacher who is suing Facebook and three unnamed residents after he was accused of rape on an Instagram account sharing anonymous sexual misconduct allegations.
Gray said her lawyer in the Galloway case has advised her to call an expert witness to discuss the importance of hashtags—something that will cost thousands of dollars.
In the bigger picture, she said these lawsuits will have the effect of discouraging people from reporting sexual assault.
“These cases will have a really potentially important precedent in terms of should men be able to sue after they’ve been investigated for sexual assault and subsequently terminated.”
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Via Vice News