University faces lawsuit over residence sexual assaults

Plaintiff seeking nearly a million dollars from Queen's and two other defendants

After a series of alleged sexual assaults in Victoria Hall residence rooms, a former Queen’s student is taking legal action to hold the University vicariously liable. 

The plaintiff, a former residence advisor, is seeking $950,000 in damages in the Superior Court of Justice from Queen’s and two other defendants for the alleged 2014 incidents, according to court filings obtained by The Journal.

None of the allegations contained in the plaintiff’s statement of claim have been proven in a court of law.

In her statement, the plaintiff alleged that Ali Erfany and another unamed defendant carried out “a series of physical and sexual abuse.” The two are former Queen’s students.

The statement pleads that at the time of the alleged assaults, Erfany was a residence facilitator and the unnamed defendant was a house president. Both defendants were “employed by and/or a volunteer of Queen’s University” at the time of the alleged incidents.

According to the statement of claim, Queen’s did not have adequate policies in place to protect victims of sexual assault on campus. Additionally, the statement claims it “failed to follow” the policies that did exist to protect students.

Additionally, the statement pleads the University failed to have adequate information or education for students on sexual assault.

The plaintiff also argued that, as employees of Queen’s, both Erfany and the unnamed defendant had an obligation to report on each other’s conduct. 

In an interview with The Journal, the plaintiff said bringing the suit forward was about “justice for myself, but it’s also about taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen to other people.”

“From my perspective, Queen’s needs to take responsibility for their students,” she said. “Having students come and pay really high fees to come to university, you expect you’re going to be in a safe learning environment.” 

“That wasn’t the case for me,” she added.

According to the plaintiff’s statement of claim, incidents involving Erfany and the other unnamed defendant allegedly began in September of 2014. At the time of the first incident, the unnamed defendant was with the plaintiff in her Victoria Hall residence room. 

Without the plaintiff’s consent, the unnamed defendant allegedly began to touch her inappropriately. She asked him to stop, but he continued. It was only after the plaintiff asked two more times that  the defendant got up and left the room.

Later, in October or November of 2014, the plaintiff saw the unnamed defendant on campus. He allegedly apologized for his previous conduct and invited the plaintiff to his residence room. 

The plaintiff attended the defendant’s room, where Erfany was already present. According to the statement of claim, after sitting down with the two men, the unnamed defendant allegedly attempted to kiss the plaintiff.

As the plaintiff stood up to leave the room, the pair allegedly “threw [the plaintiff] onto the bed.” The plaintiff pleads the defendants proceeded to sexually assault her.

 

 

During the exam period in December of 2014, another incident between the plaintiff and Erfany. 

At the time, the plaintiff was on 24-hour call as a residence advisor and required to keep an on-call telephone with them in order to respond to emergencies.

According to the statement of claim, the plaintiff arranged for the previous on call residence advisor to drop off the telephone at her room between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.  

At around 2 a.m. that night, the plaintiff allegedly received a call from the unnamed defendant. He told her that Erfany wanted to meet. The plaintiff told the unnamed defendant no, ending the call.

Shortly after, the unnamed defendant called again requesting to meet. Again, the plaintiff said no.

During the call, the plaintiff heard a knock at their door. Assuming it was the residence advisor dropping off the on-call phone, the plaintiff answered the door. 

When she answered, Erfany was allegedly standing outside the plaintiff’s door. He allegedly pushed the plaintiff into the room and onto their bed. The plaintiff pleads Erfany then allegedly sexually assaulted her.

Eventually, the plaintiff was able to break free from Erfany, allegedly standing  up and telling him to leave the room. 

After the incident, the plaintiff was administered a rape kit at Kingston General Hospital. 

On Jan. 7, 2015, Erfany was arrested by Kingston Police and charged, leading to a conviction. 

As previously reported by The Journal, in March of 2015, the plaintiff found out that Erfany had been elected to the University Senate, one of Queen’s highest governing bodies.

In an email exchange with a human rights office advisor following Erfany’s election, the plaintiff was told there were no policies to have him removed from Senate, despite his criminal charge.

In the summer of 2016, Erfany was convicted of unlawfully entering a dwelling and sexual assault. 

A few months later, he was given an eight-month conditional sentence to serve in the community under restrictions, probation for two years and was ordered registered into the Ontario Sex Offender Informational Registry.

At the time of his conviction, Erfany was still enrolled at Queen’s. He’d also sat on Senate while his trial was ongoing. 

In 2017, Erfany appealed his conviction.  The Journal has since learned he lost his appeal. 

In the plaintiff’s current lawsuit against the University, a motion filed shows that on April 27, 2018, Queen’s was ordered to produce the last known contact information for Erfany and the unnamed defendant, as they had yet to notify court of their intent to defend the action.

According to the plaintiff’s attorney, after all parties have defended, the case will move forward to examination for discovery. 

In her interview with The Journal, the plaintiff said, “before and after these incidents, I didn’t feel safe in my learning environment, and also in my working environment, being an employee.”

“There are no words to describe how this has affected my life. It’s something I’m never going to be able to get back,” she said. “There are years I’m never going to get back.”

 

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