Ivan Henry will not settle with women claiming he attacked them, lawyer says

Legal counsel for Ivan Henry, who was found to have been wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting eight women, said Henry will not be settling with five women taking him to civil court.

Despite Henry's acquittal, 5 women claim in civil lawsuit that they were sexually assaulted by him

Ivan Henry was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in 1983. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Legal counsel for Ivan Henry, who was found to have been wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting eight women, said he will not be settling with five women alleging in civil court that he did, in fact, attack them.

"Mr. Henry will not be settling this lawsuit. He will not be paying any money by way of a settlement," said his lawyer Marilyn Sandford.

Henry served 27 years in prison for convictions that were eventually quashed by the B.C. Court of Appeal due to legal errors, including a tainted police lineup.

Henry launched a civil lawsuit against the province in B.C. Supreme Court after being acquitted in 2010, and in 2016 was awarded $8 million.

In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, the women allege they were each sexually assaulted at knifepoint by Henry between May 1981 and June 1982. They're demanding at least some of the money he was awarded last year.

Threshold different in civil court

The women's lawsuit will be argued in civil court, which has a lower legal threshold of proof.

In criminal court, guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil law, cases are decided on the balance of probabilities.

But Sandford said she does not believe the change in threshold is likely to affect the outcome.

"The evidence has all of those weaknesses that two courts have now concluded on two very full hearings that the evidence simply isn't there," she said. 

"The standards change, but the facts don't change at all."

Sandford said she is now primarily concerned about Henry's well-being, and the toll this will take on the 70-year-old, given "his age, his health and what he's already been through."

Sandford said, "He'd hoped that that was all behind him. To have to go through it again at his age, given what he's been through, I think is very regrettable, but he of course has confidence that the facts can't be changed at this stage."

'I haven't had a voice'

The identities of the five women are protected by a publication ban.

But one of the women insisted that if they had been able to testify at a recent court hearing to give their version of the events, Henry would not have been awarded compensation.

"If we had been heard, we wouldn't be here now," she told CBC News. "I haven't had a voice for 35 years."

She added: "Now it's going to be heard and I'm not shutting up until it's finished."

None of the allegations in the lawsuit have been proven in court. Henry has not yet filed a response.

With files from Eric Rankin and Belle Puri