Nova Scotia

Hankey accuser files lawsuit against universities, Anglican Church, estate

Glenn Johnson says former professor and priest Wayne John Hankey assaulted him when he was 14.

Glenn Johnson says Wayne Hankey sexually assaulted him when he was 14

Glenn Johnson is suing the estate of Wayne Hankey as well as the University of King's College, Dalhousie University and the Anglican Synod. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

A man who says he was sexually assaulted by a former university professor and priest is suing two Halifax universities, a body of the Anglican Church and the estate of the man he says assaulted him.

Glenn Johnson claims Wayne John Hankey, a defrocked priest and longtime professor at the University of King's College and Dalhousie University, sexually assaulted him in 1977 and 1978, when Johnson was 14.

The civil lawsuit, filed last month in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, names the board of governors at King's, Dalhousie University, the Anglican Diocesan Synod of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and Hankey's estate.

Hankey, 77, was facing three criminal trials for charges of sexual assault, gross indecency and indecent assault when he died in early February, about a month before the first trial. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Johnson was not among the criminal complainants. He came forward to police last year, but they did not lay charges in his case.

Johnson's lawyer, Liam O'Reilly of Wagners Law Firm in Halifax, said although the lawsuit is being pursued as a single claim, the firm could pursue it as a class action if that becomes more advantageous.

Hankey 'stupefied the plaintiff with alcohol'

The lawsuit claims Johnson met Hankey in 1977 or 1978 through another Anglican minister named Wayne Lynch, who was later convicted of sexually abusing Johnson.

Johnson was interested in pursuing higher education and felt a calling to become a minister.

Hankey, who was introduced to Johnson as a minister, professor, co-ordinator and director of the foundation year program at King's and a special lecturer at Dalhousie, "enticed" him to visit the university campuses and used his position of authority and trust to convince Johnson's parents to allow him to go with him and Lynch.

The lawsuit said Hankey promised he would be able to use his position at King's, Dalhousie and the Synod to ensure Johnson would get into the schools and become a minister once he was of age.

Johnson stayed with the two men for about three days at the President's Lodge at King's, where Hankey allegedly "stupefied the plaintiff with alcohol and sexually assaulted him," according to the statement of claim.

"At all the material times, the plaintiff was made to believe that Hankey's sexual exploitation of him was expected as part of his admission to higher education with King's and Dalhousie, and as a prerequisite to become an ordained minister with the Anglican Church with the Synod," it said.

Claim of negligence

The lawsuit claims King's, Dalhousie and the Synod were responsible and liable for Hankey's actions, as they had a duty to protect Johnson while he was in Hankey's care.

The statement of claim also said King's, Dalhousie and Synod were negligent because they knew or ought to have known Hankey "did not have the requisite qualifications or character" for his position and knew or ought to have known that Hankey had "displayed pedophilic tendencies."

Former professor Wayne Hankey died in February, one month before the first of three criminal trials was set to begin. (CBC)

The institutions also had a duty to adequately screen and monitor those in positions of authority over minors and to investigate allegations or suspicions of inappropriate conduct and take action, the court document said.

The lawsuit claims damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenities, as well as punitive damages.

None of the allegations against King's, Dalhousie University, the Anglican Diocesan Synod of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and Hankey's estate have been proven in court.

King's said it would have no comment while the case is before the court. CBC also contacted Dalhousie and the Anglican Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, but has not yet received a response.

Criminal allegations

The three criminal cases against Hankey involved incidents that took place between 1977 and 1988.

The first charge was announced in February 2021 and involved a 1988 incident in which a former student at King's said Hankey entered his dorm room, straddled him on the bed and grabbed his buttocks and genitals.

The second charge, announced in April 2021, involved a man who alleged Hankey invited him to go swimming at the King's campus pool in 1977, when the man was 18, and then touched his genitals in the shower afterward. Other encounters involving sexualized contact between Hankey and the complainant took place over the following two years.

The third charge, also announced in April 2021, involved an 18-year-old student who said he went to Hankey's office at King's for a tutoring session in 1982 and Hankey put his hand on the complainant's leg and began to slide it up under his shorts.

The identities of all three complainants are protected by a publication ban.

The charges were all dismissed after Hankey's death.

Previously disciplined

In late 1990, Hankey was accused of sexually abusing a former King's student and family friend between 1977 and 1979.

The Anglican Church convened an ecclesiastical court to deal with the allegation, and Hankey was found guilty of immorality and was deprived of his ministerial duties and religious office.

King's also investigated the allegation in 1991 and suspended Hankey for one year as a result. However, Hankey continued to teach at King's until his retirement in 2015, and taught on contract at Dalhousie until the first charge was announced last year.

In the wake of the criminal allegations, King's announced it was commissioning an independent investigation, which is ongoing. The university has said the full report will be released when it is complete.

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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