'Post Secondary Assault'
A case illustrating that some lessons are never learned and sexual assault still happens.
Jane was an international student who applied for a PhD program in Canada. She had a religious upbringing and had never been alone in the company of a man that was not a relative. She travelled to the City where she was to study and Mike, her soon to be instructor picked her up at the airport.
Mike was a new instructor at the University and had been born, raised and completed his education in Europe. He had a wife and two children.
Upon meeting her, Mike made several unwelcome comments about her physical appear- ance including that her legs looked pretty with high heels on. He made comments that he was surprised at her clothing as he thought she would be more modestly dressed.
Mike offered to take her to dinner to celebrate her arrival to Canada. After dinner he drove Jane to her hotel and insisted on helping her carry her bags to her room. Before leaving the room, Mike approached her, gave her a hug and kissed her on the cheek. Mike explained that was the way two people left each other in Western society. Jane was extremely uncomfortable with the contact as it exceeded what she was accustomed to based on her upbringing, but Mike was her instructor, she was new to the Country and so she did not say anything.
Mike told Jane that he would pick her up the next day to help her get established. Mike picked her up and drove her to a bank to setup a new account as well as other errands. In the course of their travels, Mike told Jane how elegant she looked and made other similar comments while staring intently at her breasts. Jane was very offended but did not say anything as she did not know what to do.
Mike created a number of situations over the course of a year where he was alone with Jane in her residence. Jane did not know what to do when they were alone, she tried to keep the conversation focused on her studies. Jane was not comfortable with having a man in her apartment with her alone, she felt she could not ask him to leave.
Jane was studying in Canada with the financial backing of her Country and as such, her family was responsible for the costs should she fail to return with a degree. Her father passed away while she was gone and so the penalty for default of payment would be imprisonment for her brother.
Mike continued to force sexual contact upon Jane, and during their second encounter, he began to kiss her, led her to her bed, and took off some of her clothing. Jane protested and Mike appeared to come to his senses. He began to apologize and left.
The next day after the incident,Mike brought Jane a couple of pairs of boots and asked her to accept one as a gift. She accepted because she thought it would be rude to refuse it.
Mike’s behaviour escalated and during one incident he took off all of his clothing and ‘lay on top of her’. Jane protested and said such contact was not appropriate because he was her instructor. He told her not to worry about it and said that nobody needed to know. Jane talked about how she valued her virginity and said she did not want to do anything and had to resort to shielding her genitalia with her hands. Mike did not listen to her objections and continued his attack on her. Mike finished his attack and got up and had a shower. He began to apologize to her and left her apartment.
Over the course of a few months, Mike orchestrated several meetings where he would be alone with Jane and even showed up to her apartment and waited in the hallway for her to return one day. She was startled when she saw him there and invited him in as she did not want to appear rude and did not want to jeopardize her eduction.
Jane did not know that she could make a complaint against Mike for what he was doing to her, either to the University or to the Police. In her Country, the blame for being alone with a man that was not a relative would fall on her. It would come down to her word against his and he was a respected instructor and she was a foreign student. In her experience,her complaint would not be investigated and would result in a loss of respect for her and her family.
Further, she was afraid that Mike would influence her studies and she would be unsuccessful in her degree. Her brother did not have the money to pay for her schooling so she knew that would result in his imprisonment.
The final incident between them ended in Mike getting naked, taking her clothes off and then ‘laying’ on her. Jane said that Mike became much more aggressive as time went on. She said he disregarded or minimized her objections and continued to try to force sexual intercourse with her. She continued to object and attempt to shield her genitalia with her hands to prevent intercourse. Afterwards, Jane noticed blood on the bed and believed she was no longer a virgin. She was devastated as in her Country that would make her undesirable and unsuitable for marriage.
Mike gave her a referral to his wife’s gynecologist when she expressed her concerns to him. She did not go as she was afraid it would be known that she was no longer a virgin. Some time passed and she began to experience physical symptoms from the stress the situation caused her. She was unable to sleep at night and her grades suffered. She finally went to the Doctor with a panic attack and told him of what had caused the stress. The doctor referred her to a Psychologist who in turn referred her to the internal University complaint process.
Some promises that Mike had made to her regarding her program went unfulfilled. Her PhD program was in jeopardy so she decided to apply to another University and transferred.
After an investigation, it was concluded that Jane’s complaint was founded, that she had been sexually harassed and assaulted and they terminated Mike. During the investigation, another incident came to light between Mike and a different international student whom he had admitted attempting to kiss. An apology to the student was accepted as remedy for that situation.
Mike and his Union filed a grievance regarding the discipline. An arbitration followed. During the course of the arbitration, Jane submitted evidence regarding Mike’s physical characteristics that indicated she had seen him naked. She provided detailed and elaborate accounts of their interactions. During extensive cross examination, some details of her testimony were somewhat shaky. Mike testified and denied any sexual contact and maintained that he could not recall much of their interactions. He claimed that she was a poor student and was making the allegations up. The Union argued that since the complaint was brought over a year after the fact, that they were outside the time frame indicated in the Policy and thus should not be considered.
The arbitrator determined that due to the extenuating circumstances, the one year time frame was not a consideration. He further found that Jane was more credible than Mike for a variety of reasons, and concluded that she had been sexual assaulted and that the discipline was justified.
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