Nova Scotia

Hankey accuser plans to sue King's, Anglican Church in civil case

Glenn Johnson says he will sue the University of King's College and the Anglican Church after Wayne Hankey allegedly assaulted him in the late '70s.

Glenn Johnson says Wayne Hankey sexually assaulted him on university campus in late '70s

Glenn Johnson has retained Wagners Law Firm for a planned civil lawsuit against the University of King's College and the Anglican Church. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Glenn Johnson will continue his fight for justice despite the death this weekend of the man he accuses of sexually assaulting him more than 40 years ago.

Wayne John Hankey, a former Anglican priest and longtime professor at the University of King's College and Dalhousie University, died this weekend after a heart attack. He was 77.

Hankey was one month away from the first of three criminal trials, which involved charges of sexual assault, indecent assault and gross indecency for alleged incidents dating back to the 1970s and 80s.

Johnson has retained Wagners Law Firm to represent him in a civil lawsuit against the University of King's College, the Anglican Church and possibly others.

He said he is still grappling with the "shocking" news of Hankey's death.

"I'm really not sure how to feel. I certainly didn't wish his demise. I wanted him to face justice, and I think he does have to face that now — he's got to face God's judgment," said Johnson.

"For me and the others, we still serve a life sentence. We have to deal with this for the rest of our lives. It doesn't go away because he has passed away."

Former professor Wayne John Hankey died on the weekend. He was awaiting 3 criminal trials involving allegations of sexual assault, indecent assault and gross indecency. (CBC)

Liam O'Reilly, a lawyer with Wagners, said he could not comment on whether anyone else has approached the law firm about filing a civil case. He said it's possible that if a number of people come forward, there could be a class-action lawsuit.

"We're kind of keeping our options open. We're seeing if, you know, it becomes more viable, then we'll potentially move in that direction," he said.

He is not one of the complainants in the criminal cases, as Halifax Regional Police did not lay charges after he came forward with his allegation.

Police have declined to explain why charges weren't laid, but Johnson said he was told it was because he mixed up the names of Hankey and another priest, Wayne Lynch, in his written statement to police. Lynch was previously convicted of assaulting Johnson.

Three criminal cases

Halifax Regional Police first announced a charge against Hankey on Feb. 1, 2021. In that case, which was scheduled to go to trial on March 3, Hankey was accused of sexually assaulting a male student in his dorm room at King's in 1988.

The complainant alleged Hankey entered his room, straddled him on the bed and grabbed his buttocks and genitals.

After that complainant came forward, charges were laid involving two others.

The second trial, for charges of indecent assault and gross indecency, was set for June 6-10. The victim in that case accused Hankey of touching his genitals in the showers at the campus pool in 1977 when he was 18. 

The third trial was scheduled to take place on May 24 and June 23. In that case, Hankey was charged with indecent assault and gross indecency for allegedly putting his hand up the complainant's shorts during a tutoring session in Hankey's office on campus in 1982.

The identities of all three complainants are under a publication ban.

Criminal charges to be dismissed

Hankey pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Due to his death, the Crown is expected to offer no evidence at a scheduled appearance Tuesday, and the charges will be dismissed. A statement from the Public Prosecution Service said that is the only option available to the Crown.

Reached on the weekend, one of the complainants said he was not ready to speak about his reaction to the news of Hankey's death.

The family of another man who was allegedly assaulted by Hankey, Richard March, also declined an interview. March, who died in 1992, told his family Hankey sexually assaulted him in the early 1970s, when he was 17.

Since Hankey's death on the weekend, March's brother, Peter, made a donation in Richard's memory to the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre.

Teaching continued after earlier allegations

Hankey taught classics and philosophy at both the University of King's College and Dalhousie University for years. He retired from King's in 2015, but continued teaching at Dalhousie up until the first sexual assault charge was announced.

He had previously faced a charge of immorality in a rare ecclesiastical court case. In that case, a former student, also a family friend of Hankey's, said Hankey had sexually abused him for two years in his late teens in the late 1970s. 

The ecclesiastical court found Hankey guilty, and he was stripped of his ministerial duties. 

The University of King's College also investigated the allegation and suspended Hankey for one year as a result.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Frances Willick is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. Please contact her with feedback, story ideas or tips at frances.willick@cbc.ca

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