Canadian literature community raises funds for defendants in Galloway lawsuit

A fundraising campaign to support the defendants of former UBC creative writing professor Steven Galloway’s defamation lawsuit has raised over $43,000 in less than a day.

It was reported Monday that the former professor is suing over 20 defendants in response to alleged defamatory statements about his extramarital affair with a former graduate student.

The student, known primarily as the main complainant (MC), accused Galloway of sexual assault in 2016, which led to his suspension and termination from UBC the next year.

Yesterday evening, Canadian author Amanda Leduc launched a fundraising campaign to help with the initial legal costs of the defendants, some of whom are Galloway’s former colleagues and students.

The notice also sues and names MC, whose identity was previously protected by a publication ban. This was widely publicized in a column written by Christie Blatchford of The National Post.

Joanna Birenbaum, who has served as legal counsel to MC in the past, has not confirmed with The Ubyssey whether this named defendant is MC. The Ubyssey does not publish the names of those who allege they have been sexually assaulted without their consent.

The campaign surpassed its original goal of $25,000 in only three hours. Since then, Leduc has raised the goal to $50,000 — a success she attributes to the Canadian literature (CanLit) community’s support for the defendants.

After Galloway was terminated in 2016, a number of famous Canadian authors, like Margaret Atwood, signed the UBC Accountable letter calling for the university to respect his right to due process.

The CanLit community has since then been largely divided on Galloway’s case. But Leduc said opinion in some circles has shifted in favour of the MC.

“I think there’s been a growing amount of support for the defendants in this case in this whole debacle for some period of time,” said Leduc. “And I’m glad that’s being made clear in such a public way.”

Leduc added the campaign is meant to fund “longer term costs” associated with the trial, especially as many defendants have expressed concerns about soliciting and paying for legal representation.

She noted the suit is likely to be long and involves a large number of defendants, some of whom are likely to bear the brunt of legal costs.

“Someone I was speaking to earlier today referred to it as ‘a shrapnel-style suit,’” said Leduc “There’s sort of an initial blast, and there will be additional movements after that that will have impact on a fewer amount of people.”

Leduc added that this campaign is the starting point for “a series” of fundraising activities to support the defendants, including the potential for auctions and on-the-ground events organized by CanLit community members.

The way those funds will be distributed is still being discussed, but Leduc hopes it will have “maximum impact” and that the campaign will continue to draw support, especially in the context of the Me Too movement.

“The act of suing sexual assault accusers has implications well beyond the Canadian literature community,” said Leduc. “Anyone who supports the MeToo movement should realize this has implications well beyond this case.”

Former Discorder Editor-in-Chief Brit Bachmann and UBC creative writing professor Keith Maillard, who are amongst the defendants, have declined to comment. Other defendants could not be reached for comment by press time.

The Galloway case

After accusations against Galloway came to light in 2015, UBC appointed the Honourable Mary Ellen Boyd to conduct an investigation. She concluded that the affair between MC and Galloway was consensual, and that the sexual assault accusations couldn’t be substantiated on a balance of probabilities.

But Boyd did find that Galloway had “made increasingly inappropriate sexual comments and advances towards [MC] over a number of months,” and that “[MC’s] failure to expressly object to his behaviour was the byproduct of the power differential between the two parties.”

UBC terminated Galloway in 2016 for “a record of misconduct that resulted in an irreparable breach of the trust.”

This year, Galloway received $167,000 in damages from UBC after an arbitration decision ruled the university’s communications breached his privacy, and another $60,000 after UBC was found to have violated the first arbitration’s confidentiality agreement.

None of the allegations against the defendants have been proven in court.