B.C. Human Rights Tribunal will investigate a complaint against Vancouver Island University. (File photo)

Tribunal will investigate fetish case at VIU’s Cowichan campus

Staff, students claim they were placed at risk of sexual harassment by student.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal will investigate a complaint against Vancouver Island University in a case regarding a male student on its Cowichan campus who favoured diapers and baby talk.

The case involved allegations from female staff members and students who claim they were placed at risk of sexual harassment by the student.

RELATED STORY: STUDENT’S ALLEGED SEXUAL ROLE-PLAY LEAD TO HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLAINT

According to a complaint submitted by Katrin Roth, a former director of human rights and respectful workplace at VIU, to the tribunal, the student sent an instructor “semi-nude and sexually fetishistic images” of himself wearing a diaper and sucking on a soother.

Roth said she became aware in November, 2016, that the harassment of the instructor and other individuals had taken place over a two-year period.

She describes that conduct as: sending sexually suggestive photos to women, writing in an “explicit, sexually exhibitionistic manner”, following women to isolated areas, asking women out on dates repeatedly, leering and staring at women, and making women feel unsafe.

Roth also said there were instances where the student “pretended to seek routine services, but then proceeded to surprise and involve non-consenting women in sexually arousing fantasies and role plays”.

She alleged that VIU failed to take quick or meaningful action to address the issue.

The tribunal did not allow a complaint from Roth to proceed last fall, but she was given additional time to amend her complaint.

Last week, tribunal chairwoman Diana Juricevic said she was prepared to accept the complaint with conditions and certain deadlines.

A statement from the office of VIU president Ralph Nilson said the matter is in the preliminary stages of the tribunal process.

“VIU has not received the materials that were submitted and has not had an opportunity to respond. Due to the high moral and legal obligations related to student and community member privacy, we have been unable to and cannot comment on or discuss any specific details,” the statement said.

“We appreciate the clarifications set out in the decision and, if the matter proceeds, welcome the opportunity to review the confidential details surrounding this situation in a fair, impartial and legal setting.”

Nilson said last summer that he was confident the university took appropriate and reasonable actions to respond to the concerns that were raised and to protect the safety and well-being of VIU’s campus community.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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