British Columbia·GO PUBLIC

2 Victoria real estate agents deny drugging and sexually assaulting client

Two Victoria Realtors accused of sexually assaulting their client have filed a statement of defence, denying the allegations.

Statement of defence claims Realtors and client did nothing but drink together on night in question

Bowman Rutledge, left, and Andy Rogers, seen in a marketing photo from 2016, deny all allegations of sexual assault against them. (Facebook)

Two Victoria Realtors accused of sexually assaulting a client at their real estate office in 2018 have filed a statement of defence, denying the allegations.

The men, Bowman Rutledge and Andy Rogers, are responding to a civil suit filed against them last month in B.C. Supreme Court by a former client.

She says she hired the two men in December of 2017 to sell her house. It sold two months later and changed possession in May of 2018.

The plaintiff, who CBC has agreed not to name because she is an alleged victim of sexual assault, says in August of 2018 she agreed to meet Rutledge to celebrate the sale of her home.

Instead, says her statement of claim, she was met by both Rutledge and Rogers, who lured her to their place of business, Engel & Volkers Vancouver Island, on the premise of having to do some paperwork before heading out.

She alleges that upon arrival at the office, she was handed a glass of wine that was drugged and quickly began to feel ill and disoriented.

She says that's when both men allegedly sexually assaulted her. The suit also names the real estate agency.

The statement of defence says both Rutledge and Rogers "support survivors of sexualized violence and deny the alleged acts attributed to them."

The response says Rutledge and the client had been longtime friends and became closer as they worked on the process of selling her home during the winter of 2017-2018.

It says the two regularly exchanged messages on social media, including the client "sending nude photographs of herself to Rutledge."

This woman is suing the two Victoria real estate agents she hired to sell her house in 2018, alleging they drugged and sexually assaulted her in their real estate office. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

After her house sold, says the response to the suit, Rutledge and the woman behind the civil suit stayed in touch via social media.

"Specifically, [the plaintiff] continued sending suggestive messages and often sought to, and in fact did, engage Rutledge and Rogers, in social settings," it says.

The response alleges that the woman asked to join both Rutledge and Rogers for drinks on the night in question, and says all three met outside her apartment building in downtown Victoria, then drove to the accused's real estate office where they had drinks in the boardroom.

"There was no discussion of a document that required execution or transmission for any purpose. The sole purpose of attending at the office was to stop for alcoholic beverages," says the statement of defence.

They deny drugging her drink and deny "the particulars of the alleged sexual assault," says the response.

The statement described the office as having floor to ceiling windows facing a main Victoria street and says there is "only a narrow strip of privacy frosting on the windows."

It says the boardroom is where the three spent "all material times." The response alleges that after drinking at the office, all three continued to socialize and frequently communicate for many months.

It says the client frequently "liked" social media posts by the Realtors and in the weeks following the evening at the office, asked Rutledge whether there was a possibility of a romantic relationship.

It also says she invited both men to join her downtown in the fall of 2020, and on Jan. 28, 2021, she texted Rutledge to ask for information about potential oceanfront vacation rentals.

The client first reported allegations of the sexual assault in February of this year, on @survivorstoriesproject — an anonymous Victoria-based instagram account for sexual assault survivors.

By that time, Rutledge and Rogers were working for a different real estate company, which fired them as soon as the allegations surfaced.

After the civil claim was filed last month, Scott Piercy, owner of Engel & Volkers Vancouver Island, issued a statement saying, "We have just become aware that our firm has been named in a civil lawsuit related to disturbing allegations involving two former independent contractors. We will act on the advice of legal counsel and address these concerns through the court system once we receive more information.

"We remain a dedicated, ­professional and ethical team of licensed advisors and these ­allegations do not represent who we are. Any form of sexual ­misconduct is wholly unacceptable and will not be tolerated within our industry or our community."

Vancouver lawyer Janelle O'Connor is representing the plaintiff in the civil action. She did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

The Victoria lawyer for the defendants, Nav Parhar, declined to comment beyond the statement of defence.


Erica Johnson

Investigative reporter

Erica Johnson is an award-winning investigative journalist. She hosted CBC's consumer program Marketplace for 15 years, investigating everything from dirty hospitals to fraudulent financial advisors. As co-host of the CBC news segment Go Public, Erica continues to expose wrongdoing and hold corporations and governments to account.

With files by Enza Uda