British Columbia

University denies it failed to protect staff in case involving alleged diaper fetish

'They didn't ask the right questions. They didn't put into place any warning signs'

Vancouver island University

'We take the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff very seriously. We are confident that we have measures in place to ensure the safety of our campuses, and policies and procedures to support our community,' said Vancouver Island University in a statement. (VIU)

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Vancouver Island University is at the centre of a human rights complaint alleging that female staff were not protected from a student who brought a diaper-related sexual fetish to the B.C. school.

A 105-page complaint filed by the Nanaimo school's former director, Human Rights and Respectful Workplace, Katrin Roth, said the man's behaviour was treated as a disability when it should have been dealt with as a potential threat to female staff.

"He will not stop unless we make him," said Roth.

"I truly believe that he needs to be medically assessed as to whether he's a risk to the community."

CBC is not identifying the man who was involved in the complaint. He responded to a request for comment saying he was unable to speak about the matter for legal reasons.

"I will say I am special needs and 3, so I am not in my 40s," he wrote to CBC.

"Like the university I do not agree with Ms. Roth's characterization of events," he wrote.

"I would like it though if one of these news stories didn't mention about something sexual in them, because it's not for me."

Demanded children's books

The student in his 40s asked to be treated as an infant, demanding children's books be read to him, speaking in a baby voice, wearing a soother, and even submitting a selfie of himself in a diaper to one instructor, said Roth. She believes that as soon as the university knew the student had what it terms an "atypical sexual drive that he may impose on non-consenting individuals" staff needed warning.

VIU staff refused to speak about the specifics of the case which spanned two years between 2015 and 2017 citing privacy concerns, but did release a statement saying that the university used an external investigator and took appropriate action "to protect the safety and well-being of our campus community."

"We take the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff very seriously. We are confident that we have measures in place to ensure the safety of our campuses, and policies and procedures to support our community."

BC Human Rights Tribunal

The student threatened to complain to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal on the ground that he was being discriminated against for his "exceptionality." (CBC)

"While the University acknowledges the right of individuals to raise issues of concern to them, we do not agree with Ms. Roth's characterization of the events."

VIU said due to privacy laws it cannot divulge all of the complexities of how the case was handled.

"VIU will continue to foster a caring and respectful community to ensure a high-quality teaching, learning and working environment."

Separate complaint

But Roth believes the student had presented himself to at least three other staff members demanding inappropriate treatment.

The former Alberta crown prosecutor is amending the original complaint that she said was deemed too broad — and has filed a second separate complaint after losing her job in 2017.

She said she became concerned after a man who said he needed to wear diapers due to a disability complained to her office. Over the years she said the student threatened to file Human Rights Complaints if his special needs were not considered, including his desire to be handled by female staff only.

In the document she said he presented himself to female staff at different campuses — in several cases asking them to change his soiled diapers. Eventually he came to Roth complaining of discrimination.

"He's unfortunately obsessed with the fecal matter," said Roth.

As she investigated his complaint she pushed for a sexual violence risk assessment — as the man who came to her claiming a disability seemed to have a sexual fetish he was subjecting others to, the document reveals.

 "VIU didn't put into place any warning signs," said the former VIU staff member who believes the complaints were not taken seriously, or shared to protect others.

"The women all thought they were the only one. They all thought maybe he's a little bit strange."

Curious George outfit

English professor and chair of VIU's women's studies program Janis Ledwell-Hunt describes the man who was her student in spring of 2015 as somebody who left her fearful.

He was one of only a handful of in-person students in the small intensive course. But his "odd" and incessant emails disturbed her, the document says.

Then he handed in an essay with a selfie of himself in a diaper with a baby bottle and a soiled diaper. When she refused to accept it he became belligerent and she turned to VIU authorities for protection, says the complaint.

"He'd show up in a Curious George outfit with a soother around his neck," said Ledwell-Hunt.

"He was involving me into his fantasy life. Into his fantasy play."

After the student was finally asked to leave her class in late May — after she raised numerous concerns — he then threatened to take his case to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal because he was being discriminated against for his "exceptionality," according to documents filed with the tribunal.

Ledwell-Hunt believes he's no longer a student, but says he never stopped sending her messages — as recently as this month — at first complaining she wasn't sensitive to his "special needs" then saying he forgave her for "tattling" on him.

"He did pose a threat to me and other women — and I was told he was harmless," she said.

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