British Columbia

B.C. woman ordered to pay father $135,000 for false sexual abuse allegation

A B.C. Supreme Court justice has ruled the comments were defamatory

Woman claimed her father abused her daughter in post on GoFundMe

A woman from the Fraser Valley is being ordered to pay her father $135,000 in damages after she made a post online alleging he had sexually abused her daughter.

The B.C. Supreme Court judgement was issued yesterday and comes 19 months after the defendant, Tammi Sylvia Janet Zall, made the allegations on GoFundMe against her father, John Macdonald Zall.

"Just under two weeks before Christmas my daughter came to me and told me some inappropriate things that were apparently happening to her at my dad's. Upon hearing that I removed her from the house with the company of the RCMP," she wrote in her post, adding her daughter required additional counselling.      

The post was made in February 2015, after Mr. Zall, a Chilliwack businessman, had begun trying to take custody of his granddaughter from his daughter Tammi.

In her ruling, the judge noted Mr. Zall had passed a polygraph examination and police found no evidence to back up the complaint. The defendant had been found guilty of a similar crime in the past. 

2009 public mischief charge

The defendant phoned Abbotsford Police in 2009, claiming she was sexually assaulted by an unknown man. The incident was widely circulated in the media, but after an investigation, she admitted she had fabricated the story, and was subsequently found guilty of public mischief.

She was sentenced to four months of electronic monitoring.  

Mr. Zall had taken care of his granddaughter in the years since, and the defendant occasionally lived with the two of them when she was evicted from other residences, according to court documents.  

In 2014, the defendant told Mr. Zall she had cancer and needed $7,500 for medical treatment.

She provided an email from a person posing as an oncologist at the "Vancouver Cancer Society" — an organization that does not exist — but when Mr. Zall investigated further, she admitted it was a scam so she could buy heroin. 

By the end of the year, Mr. Zall had told his daughter he would no longer assist her, and began proceedings to take custody of his granddaughter. 

Judge admits defendant unlikely to pay

Mr. Zall testified the sexual abuse allegation had caused stress and loss of business opportunities, and that friends and family had distanced themselves from him.  

"The defendant was motivated by revenge, monetary gain and a desire to hurt her father and thwart his efforts to gain custody," wrote Justice Duncan in her ruling. 

She awarded $75,000 for general damages, $50,000 for aggravated damages and $10,000 for cost.

However, Duncan also said "the likelihood that[Mr. Zall] will ever receive any compensation for this judgment is low," owing to the defendant's employment status and outstanding debts.