Report on sexual assault allegations at King’s recommends apologies, settlements
WARNING: This story contains details that readers may find disturbing and deals with sexual assault.
A new report into sexual assault allegations against a former professor at the University of King’s College in Halifax has uncovered more incidents and recommends the university apologize to the victims and settle all legal action.
In 2021, longtime professor Wayne John Hankey was charged with sexual assault, gross indecency and indecent assault involving three male complainants over incidents they believe happened between 1977 and 1988.
Hankey died in 2022, just a month before the first trial was due to take place. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges.
After the first criminal complaint came forward, King’s retained two attorneys from Toronto law firm Rubin Thomlinson to conduct an independent third-party review of the allegation. The scope was later expanded to include other allegations.
“Dr. Hankey engaged in predatory and abusive behavior towards some young men,” the final report said. “We have become aware of numerous incidents ranging from subtle solicitation, sexual innuendo, homophobic remarks to sexual assault.”
Complainants of other “heartbroken” allegations.
Investigators list a long list of allegations that they say are “more likely than not to have occurred.”
One charge relates to incidents that took place between 1977 and 1980 that resulted in the victim filing a complaint with the Anglican Church and King’s in 1990.
The man alleged that he was sexually abused by Hankey in his late teens, including while he was a student at King’s. These allegations included incidents of sexual contact in the university pool shower area. The prosecutor at the time preferred not to press charges, but an ecclesiastical court of the Anglican Church found Hankey guilty and he was stripped of his religious office.
The complainant in that incident, who agreed to his identification on Wednesday, said he thought the Rubin report was fair and accurate.
“I was heartbroken to learn that so many other young men and women were hurt by Wayne Hankey, but I am deeply grateful to them for having the courage to speak out,” David Harris said in a statement.
“I’m grateful too [university] president [William] Lahey for the steps he and the board have taken to transform the culture at King’s. I suppose his sincere apologies for the injuries I have suffered. At least for me it is an important step in my own healing. I hope that the report’s findings will be of value not only to prospective King’s students, but to students at all Canadian universities.”
Incidents span decades
Other incidents included in the report include:
A man who said Hankey put his hand on the man’s leg, on his clothing and on his genitals during a meeting with Hankey in his office in 1978.
A teenager who had a summer job scraping and painting a house in 1980. As he climbed a ladder to get to the second floor, “He looked through the window and saw Dr. Hankey on a boy between the ages of 10 and 20 – probably 15. The boy was lying face down on the bed and Dr. Hankey was on top of him in the “rear entry” position.
A man who said Hankey put his hand on the man’s leg under his shorts in 1982 and attempted to make contact with his genitals.
A man who said Hankey stared at his genitals in the sauna at the Dalplex, Dalhousie University’s gym, in 1985.
A man who worked on building the King’s Library in the mid-1980s said he went to Hankey’s apartment to ask about collecting money for unpaid bills. Hankey appeared at the door in his underwear with a bottle of wine and asked the man, “What’s in it for me if I talk to people and try to get your money?”
A man who worked as a lifeguard at the Dalplex recalled an agitated swimmer exiting the pool in 1986, saying another swimmer had just grabbed his testicles. The lifeguard recognized the accused as Dr. Hankey and reported the incident to his supervisor.
An incident of sexually touching a male student without his consent that resulted in physical injuries in the 1980s.
A man who said Hankey regularly made sexualized comments about his body in front of others, including in 2008 in the classroom and at the campus bar.
A man who said Hankey grabbed his thigh and asked for a kiss during a dinner at Hankey’s in 2019.
The report also includes incidents – which were extensively reported by the CBC – which investigators said were “possible to have occurred,” including the alleged assaults by Richard March, a Hankey family acquaintance, in the early 1970s and Glenn Johnson, who alleges this attacked in the President’s Lodge at King’s in the late 1970s when he was a young teenager.
Interviewed dozens of people
The report states that King’s is responsible for the damage done to the victims.
“Dr. Hankey abused students while he was a professor at King’s and while those students attended King’s. His role as a professor gave him access to these students, and his behavior took place in the king’s facilities — pools, residences, his rooms and classrooms,” the report said.
“That alone would allow us to conclude that King’s is accountable. However, since King’s Dr. Hankey, who was swimming naked with a child, conducted a limited committee hearing that did not connect all available points of evidence linking Dr. Hankey’s behavior and preventing people from complaining against him increases their responsibility for the damage done.”
Investigators interviewed 81 people over 110 hours and reviewed all available King’s records on Hankey. The report notes that the documentation was “unconvincing” and points to a “careless approach to record keeping”. It also says that at least one report by a committee investigating Hankey’s conduct has been destroyed.
The investigators’ report was redacted to protect the confidentiality and privacy of the victims.
civil proceedings ongoing
A civil case filed by a man who claims he was assaulted by Hankey is ongoing. Glenn Johnson’s lawsuit has named the board of governors of King’s, Dalhousie University, the Anglican Diocesan Synod of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and Hankey’s estate. Hankey was a former Anglican priest.
In a statement released Wednesday, Johnson’s attorney, Liam O’Reilly, said: “We commend the courage of the victims who have come forward publicly to defend Dr. To expose Hankey’s sexual misconduct.
“These bold actions have helped create a platform that allows other victims of Dr. Hankey allows them to know that they are not alone and will also express their traumatic experiences. We continue to study the Rubin report to investigate and identify the best mechanism behind the victims of Dr. To bring full and restorative justice to Hankey.”
University president apologizes
University President William Lahey apologized to the victims in a public address on Wednesday afternoon.
“In the men who, through Dr. I sincerely, deeply, and publicly apologize for Hankey’s reprehensible behavior and the University’s inaction to prevent you from being harmed. We apologize for what has been done to you and for the university’s past failures. Hankey correctly and completely,” he said.
“We failed to protect you, we didn’t believe you and we’re sorry.”
Lahey said the school plans to comply with all investigators’ recommendations, including providing financial compensation to victims when warranted. The amount of compensation will be determined on a case-by-case basis, but the university’s goal is “reasonable and equitable compensation,” Lahey said.
Investigators have previously released their recommendations on how King’s can ensure it provides a safe environment in relation to sexualized violence, and the university has already responded with a plan to develop a culture of consent and respect on campus.
Anyone struggling with mental health can call 911 in an emergency or the province’s toll-free mental health emergency number at 1-888-429-8167, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To contact a community mental health and addiction clinic yourself, call 1-855-922-1122 weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. AT.
People can also contact the Kids Help Phone any time of the day at 1-800-668-6868.
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