Student with autism suing Red River, former counsellor after alleged sexual assaults
College wasn't aware of allegations until after he left school
A former student of Red River College is suing the school and a former college employee, alleging the woman repeatedly sexually assaulted him over several months while serving as his counsellor.
The former student, whom CBC is not identifying, has autism and had requested a counsellor to assist him with his studies at the school when he started in September 2010, according to a statement of claim filed last month.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
The former student alleges that when he began having difficulty with his course work and experiencing panic attacks, he went to speak to the counsellor in her office on campus.
That was in November 2010, said the man's lawyer, Israel Ludwig — despite an error in the original statement of claim that said the events occurred in November 2016.
During that meeting, the document alleges the counsellor "engaged in certain sexual advances," including kissing and performing oral sex on him. The sexual advances continued at meetings every two weeks over the following six to eight months, the document states.
The victim says the assaults and counselling ended in June 2011 — although another error in the initial statement of claim says June 2017 — when the counsellor told him the college had become "suspicious" about the nature of their relationship and stopped working as his counsellor.
He alleges the counsellor told him the college had moved her office to "a more conspicuous part of the premises," so their relationship should end.
A year later, the student ended his studies at the college, citing the difficulties brought on by the encounters and his struggles in his studies without a counsellor. He alleges the school didn't assign him a new counsellor after the woman ended their relationship, and didn't provide compensation when he raised the issue years later.
Counsellor placed on leave for unrelated misconduct complaint: college
A spokesperson for Red River College said the college wasn't made aware of the allegations until last year, long after the victim ended his studies and after the accused counsellor left the school in June 2013.
In 2013, the counsellor was placed on immediate leave and the school opened a human resources investigation into allegations of misconduct stemming from an unrelated complaint, he said.
When the college learned of the former student's allegations 15 months ago, they encouraged him to contact police, the spokesperson said.
"We take this very seriously and support a full police investigation into these criminal allegations," he wrote in an email to CBC News. "A police investigation has since been launched and we are assisting where we can."
Const. Rob Carver of the Winnipeg police said he was unable to confirm any information regarding the complaint or investigation because it would be a breach of Manitoba privacy law.
The former student is suing the school and counsellor for damages caused by the alleged assaults and the lack of counselling.
As a result of what happened, he alleges he has experienced severe psychological difficulties forcing him to consult professionals with whom he is dealing with to this day.
He also hasn't been able to restart any "appropriate courses or education" since ending his studies at Red River, the document says.
Lawyer Israel Ludwig said an amended statement of claim will be filed in the coming weeks to correct the date errors in the initial document.
Red River College's full statement:
The safety and security of our students is the college's top priority. When we first became aware of these allegations nearly 15 months ago, we encouraged the former student to contact the Winnipeg Police Service. Although we weren't aware of the allegations until after both the former student and the counsellor had left the college — the counsellor left in June 2013 — we take this very seriously and support a full police investigation into these criminal allegations. A police investigation has since been launched and we are assisting where we can.
The counsellor left her job at the college five years ago, in June 2013 when we placed her on immediate leave and opened an HR investigation into allegations of misconduct, stemming from a separate, unrelated complaint. The former student's allegations were not shared with us until 2017. We will continue to work with police as we support a full investigation into this matter.