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Truth, Lies and Levers of Power
A.B. Fabricates CBC Legal Claim to Bolster Case, Against Steven Galloway
Dear Readers, it was my intention to post this update on Monday but in light of the Globe and Mail article published today on Galloway v A.B. I’ve decided to post it now. Unlike the Globe article, which reports on the assertions of defendants’ counsel unchallenged against the facts, in this reporting I have relied on source documents which are publicly available through the court record. I hope you will take the opportunity to read it and share it either publicly or privately with people who want a clear understanding about what was revealed this week.
UPDATE: Sources within the CBC have stated that, contrary to the emails sent by A.B. to Keith Maillard and Annabel Lyon, there were never any CBC “lawyers and investigators” involved, and there was never any offer made to A.B. to have her allegations against Steven Galloway included within the Fifth Estate documentary, School of Secrets. Nor was A.B. offered a “national platform” via the CBC at that time.
In the Supreme Court of British Columbia last week, A.B.’s counsel downplayed a shocking revelation: A.B. admitted under cross examination that she fabricated a claim that lawyers from the CBC vetted her rape allegations and that she leveraged this lie to incite UBC to take swift action against Steven Galloway amid concerns she had “thin evidence.”
The lie dates back to Sunday November 15, 2015 when UBC Creative Writing Professor Keith Maillard emailed A.B. to affirm his belief in her allegations, while also requesting evidence or “anything that would help” in proving Galloway’s guilt. The next day A.B. sent Maillard and Lyon an email with the subject heading “CBC vetted this rape story,” that included a document named “CBC lawyers.docx.” The email reads:
Keith and Annabel,
I've attached a doc re: the CBC lawyers vetting my story.
In case faculty are concerned about thin evidence.
In the attached document A.B. says that she wants all tenured faculty to know that The CBC’s Fifth Estate investigative program “got wind of my rape” and that the CBC legal team, “who are meticulous about potential legal cases leveled against them,” vetted the allegations, considered them damning and wanted them to be featured in their forthcoming (and now infamous) campus sexual assault expose called School of Secrets.
If the CBC law team thinks my case is strong and true and can easily withstand legal scrutiny, surely this should carry weight with the CRWR department in your decision making going forward.
Rather than bolstering her allegations this lie should have been the first sign that A.B. really did have thin evidence, or worse. It’s totally implausible that CBC lawyers would offer A.B. a legal opinion on an assault and even more implausible that they would tell her, as she wrote in the document, that they (CBC’s lawyers) wanted to give her a national platform to tell her story. This isn’t how TV works. Producers dictate content not lawyers, so even on the face of it A.B.’s claim should have given Lyon and Maillard pause before sharing it with other faculty.
In the document, A.B. claims she turned down the opportunity to appear in School of Secrets out of the respect and love that she has for the UBC Creative Writing department, but she warns them if they don’t take action against Galloway then she will “take the national platform.”
I won't protect a department who doesn't protect rape victims. I won't protect a department that allows rapists to hold positions of power, who allows serial sexual predators access to other young, vulnerable women.
During cross examination A.B. attempted to justify the CBC lie by saying that she was desperate and “pulling any lever I could to get an investigation.” She also suggested that the real situation was that she had talked to CBC producer Ronna Syed at The Fifth Estate who did believe her story, but Syed didn’t want her name used so A.B. simply swapped “Ronna Syed,” who is not a lawyer, with “CBC Legal Team” and wrote about them in the plural. It was therefore not a lie, A.B. said, but an exaggeration.
From A.B.’s cross examination with Galloway’s lawyer Dan Burnett, Q.C.:
So you were prepared to make false statements to the UBC people in order to incite them into action?
Where I disagree with you is that I do not think that it is – it could sound misleading. It is not false. I spoke to Ronna Syed…As I said before, I used the word CBC instead of Ronna Syed because she said that she didn’t want her name attached.
Well, with the greatest of respect, saying it was put through their lawyers and “the CBC legal team thought my evidence was damning” was a fabrication.
I would say it was an exaggeration, but I'm not -- I don't apologize for writing this because I was terrified, and I continue to be terrified of the person who harmed me, and I was being pressured to provide evidence and there really is no evidence.
Well she’s not a lawyer right?
Not to my knowledge.
So you want to call it an exaggeration but I’m going to put it to you that saying “I went to the CBC legal team” was a flat out lie. I mean, it's not an exaggeration. Will you admit that the statement was a lie?
I'll say that that statement was not true, and I am not -- I don't regret what I said because I needed to keep myself alive and safe.
In his oral remarks on Friday Dan Burnett called the statement a lie and told the Court that A.B.’s assertion that it was just an exaggeration further tarnished her credibility. In oral remarks last week, A.B.’s counsel Joanna Birenbaum told the Court that A.B.’s fabrication about the CBC legal team was not a sign of malice but an act that A.B. was forced to engage in as a vulnerable survivor of sexual assault. Malice, it is important to note, pierces the defence of qualified privilege, which provides immunity from being sued for defamatory comments made in the performance of a legal or moral duty.
But the issue involving A.B.’s credibility, School Of Secrets and Syed gets even more thorny. In her first cross-examination, A.B. was asked if she disclosed her rape allegations to Syed and she said, “I was not open to talking to her about what had happened to me personally in terms of an assault.”
In July of 2019, The Honourable Madam Justice Murray ordered A.B. to disclose documents Mr. Burnett had requested during his cross examination of her. A.B. appealed the order in BC Court of Appeal but the three justices hearing the case, including Chief Justice Robert Bauman, unanimously upheld the order. A.B. then applied for leave to appeal the order to the Supreme Court of Canada and was denied. A.B.’s failed battle to not disclose the documents has added a year of delay onto the case.
When finally disclosed the documents included A.B.’s email to Martha Piper which was copied to Syed at her CBC email. An Access To Information request I made in June 2017 shows two redacted emails from Syed to UBC on November 6, 2015 and November 13, 2015. A.B.s inclusion of Syed on he allegations to Piper is significant for three reasons.
The first reason is that copying the allegations to a journalist likely ends A.B.’s defence of qualified privilege.
The second reason is that copying Syed on an email that included her allegations of sexual assault directly contradicted her statements under cross-examination that she hadn’t disclosed the allegations to Syed. After being forced to disclose the documents, A.B. then offered a new answer in a subsequent cross examination.
Have you ever told Ronna Syed you were raped by Steve?
I'm sure at some point I have.
The third and most important reason Syed’s involvement is significant is that it takes us right back to School of Secrets, but now with the knowledge that A.B. lied about her involvement in the show and admitted to leveraging the ensuing panic so UBC would take Galloway out before he even had a chance to hear the allegations against him.
School of Secrets
In 2015 UBC had recently been rocked by scandal after scandal during what The Globe and Mail called “one of the most fractious chapters in the school’s 101-year history.” Former UBC President Martha Piper was brought in to stem the damage and shepherd in the university’s largest ever fundraising campaign totalling $1.6 billion in “pledged” funding that UBC claimed would propel them into the prestigious global ranks of Harvard and Princeton.
Then, on November 13, 2015, five days before UBC was to make the $1.6 Billion announcement, a week after Syed had already approached UBC about School of Secrets, A.B. emailed Piper and Syed, alleging the following:
I am submitting a formal complaint about a sexual assault perpetrated on me by a current UBC professor. This assault took place during the spring of 2012.
I already reported this assault to a staff person at UBC in the summer of 2013 with extremely negative outcomes.
On the same day Maillard also emailed Piper to let her know he was aware of the allegations and to express his puzzlement as to why UBC had not informed faculty of the assault A.B. claimed to have reported in 2013.
[A.B.] called me, and I spoke to her on the phone yesterday, and she outlined her complaint to me. She also told me that she reported this complaint both to the university—to Monica Kay, Director, Conflict Management, Equity and Inclusion Office, to be exact—and to the RCMP.
Then Maillard made an excellent inquiry.
I am writing to inquire why, if [A.B.] reported her complaint to the university in the summer of 2013, I never heard a word about it until yesterday she had been raped by a professor.
The answer to Maillard’s question is that he wasn’t informed of A.B.’s disclosure of sexual assault to Monica Kay in 2013 because it didn’t happen. How do we know? Because Monica Kay didn’t even work at UBC at the time A.B. claimed she reported a sexual assault to her. She started a few months after that date, which clearly A.B. didn’t know when she was putting her campaign against Galloway together.
This fact out of anything should have entirely halted the takedown of Galloway but it didn’t.
There are more lies to unpack. In her first affidavit, defendant Annabel Lyon included a November 19, 2015 in The Vancouver Sun in which an RCMP Spokesperson states that the UBC RCMP detachment did not have any ongoing investigations involving Galloway and that they had “never received any complaints about the professor.” A.B. has never produced a police report.
It’s also important to note that despite clearly stating that “this assault took place during the spring of 2012,” when put in front of Madam Justice Mary-Ellen Boyd, (Ret.), A.B. changed the year of the allegations to 2011. Not only was her evidence thin, but her allegations were factually shifting. So how can we explain the absolute panic from allegations that fell apart on their own logic?
The answer is either persuasion, coercion, extortion, sexual assault activism or some blend of the four. Either way it was all seemingly borne out of the panic around School of Secrets, the involvement of CBC’s Rona Syed, and A.B.’s lie that the CBC Legal Team vetted her story and offered her a national platform.
Coercion, Extortion or Sexual Assault Activism?
After speculation on social media that Galloway would be featured in the segment, CBC delayed the premiere of School of Secrets until the week after the fundraising announcement. Syed then broke the story of Galloway’s suspension on Twitter and the Fifth Estate published a full apology from Martha Piper.
The panic that School of Secrets generated within UBC cannot be overstated. Now that we know A.B. lied about her involvement with the CBC to bolster her case against Galloway, we need to ask: What other levers did she pull? There are many clues in a single email A.B. sent to Keith Maillard in the early morning of Sunday November 15th just hours after he had asked her to provide evidence to provide to other faculty.
Email from A.B. to Maillard
November 15, 2015
Hi Keith, it's 6:24am here. I have been wide awake since 4:00
This is any rape victims(sic) worst nightmare—the idea that people don't believe enough to do anything— because the consequence of that for me is dire. It gives the rapist power, and I have a target on me.
In a court of law, the rape victim's story is the evidence, because It(sic) is understood that 'hard evidence' like documents and recordings usually don't exist at all. (The older draconian law said their had to be a witness to the actual rape. That's long gone.) I don't know If it helps to remind the tenured faculty of that.
I filed a police report about Steve. I can't get that tomorrow, but it is on file with the RCMP at the edge of campus.
I will add that every single person I mentioned above, including the police believed me.
No police report has ever been produced and hasn’t been despite her now being sued for defamation. No charges or police complaints against Galloway have ever been shown to actually exist.
The email continued:
Here is my worry about giving this to the faculty, Keith: lawyers and investigators at the CBC say this is powerful evidence. Friends of Steve on faculty, who are not lawyers, may not grasp the importance of these documents, they may just think it's friendly chat— and i worry about someone leaking this evidence to Steve— because I have my own trial against him coming up through the university.
Before reading further, I’d like you to be able to consider all the possibilities in understanding A.B.’s actions, and where they might fall on a spectrum between persuasion and sexual assault activism on one side, and possible coercion or extortion on the other.
A.B.’s lawyer explains away A.B.’s fabrication of the “CBC Legal Team” lie as a desperate move by a heroic sexual assault trailblazer who was bringing forth her allegations for the public good. If this is sexual assault activism, then it is activism built on lies and A.B.’s intense manipulation as demonstrated below.
The email continued:
What I am about to say is not a threat it is a fact: I spoke to a lawyer after I got off the phone with you because there is a case for me to sue the university.
If the entire tenured faculty know about my case and choose not to act responsibly, and take seriously an violent physical assault and rape in their own hallway, and then open me up to Steve's brutality again, their is almost certainly a strong case for suing the Creative Writing Department, I am stating this as a fact— not a threat!!!
I think that sceptical or shocked members of the department might need to know how much more serious this could get for the department, if they don't act.
What I am doing here is trying to present you with pieces of an argument that you can be (sic) built in this meeting.
I have been approached about doing a print news piece about UBC and Steve. I have not committed yet, because I don't want it to be public. I want it to handled responsible(sic) by the university.
If the department doesn't act responsibly and reasonably and with a heart and be willing to believe a victim (the percentage of victims who lie is less than 1% -- this fact from a Toronto lawyer who has spent 20 years specializing Trying(sic) rape cases.) Then the department will have given me no way out—which means I become forced to fight.
But I keep getting failed and let down and I can't take it anymore, Keith.
What do they want, a dead body?
A.B.’s statement that “this is not a threat” does not exclude any threats from being understood and in fact the statement attempting to exclude the threat from her email could actually affirm that threats were being made. In this single email alone A.B. demanded a course of action or the following could happen:
She will sue the university.
She will sue UBC Creative Writing.
She will kill herself.
She will be harmed by Galloway which would be their fault.
She will expose faculty members as being complicit in rape.
She will stoke “growing rage among alumni” of the program.
She will write an article about her alleged rape.
She will write an article about “the most venerable Creative Writing Program in the country failing to act on rape allegations.
She will embarrass the department in the wake of criminal charges against Galloway.
She will take a national platform to speak against them on the CBC where a team of lawyers vetted her story and deemed it “damning.”
To avoid all of these negative outcomes all faculty needed to do was “believe her,” and take immediate action against Galloway. A.B. then quotes Sun Tzu’s The Art of War to Maillard, which is perhaps a strange reference for someone claiming to be a victim.
But, as you said about The Art of War, you have to give your opponent a way out. If the department doesn't act responsibly and reasonably and with a heart and be willing to believe a victim…Then the department will have given me no way out—which means I become forced to fight…
A.B. also provided Maillard and Lyon with mp3s of voicemails that Galloway had left her. He had apologized to her for the inappropriate affair they had actually engaged in and asked her permission that he be able to disclose this to Maillard. At the time A.B. denied that she had even had a two-year long sexual relationship with Galloway and instead presented the voicemails as him apologizing for assaulting, drugging and raping her.
A.B.’s interpretation of the voicemails is implausible. On its face the apology is clearly about their relationship. To believe otherwise is to believe that Galloway asked A.B.’s permission to confess a violent rape to his mentor because, as he sates in the voicemail, “Keith’s opinion of me matters a great deal to me” and he’d then be expecting to smooth the situation over.
AB email To Lyon
Subject : FW: voicemail 2 and contact about other assaults/harassment
Context to all of these messages. I haven't had any sort of contact/communication with Steve since May 2014. We have no "relationship" whatsoever. The implied intimacy of the "hi it's me" bit is really creepy and inappropriate coming from the Chair of my department.
Madam Justice Boyd (Ret.) determined on a balance of probabilities that A.B. and Galloway had a two-year consensual affair. Her assertion that the intimacy of “hi it’s me” was creepy is destroyed by the text messages between Galloway and A.B. that A.B. had assumed Galloway had deleted. In fact he had deleted them but was able to later retrieve them from the cloud.
Additionally, A.B. told Annabel that “hi it’s me” was creepy but in a July 16, 2011 Facebook direct message to Galloway wrote:
Text Message from A.B. to Galloway
Hey dude, I don't know who we gotta blow to get Dorothy Allison in the department next year, but lead me towards that ween and I'll start suckeling. She just gave the greatest talk at Tin House's conference I've ever seen.
It’s important to note that this message was sent to Galloway after the date A.B. later claimed he raped her. It was also sent during the time period she alleged that he subjected her to “unwanted and inappropriate sexual attention.”
I have also reviewed over two hundred pages of text messages that similarly prove that they had an affair, a long friendship that easily justifies Galloway’s use of “hi it’s me.”
In regard to the harassment finding, and arguments by A.B. and other defendants that the harassment finding can be extrapolated on to deduce the occurrence of rape, Madam Justice Boyd (Ret.) found the following.
While both the Respondent and MC have each voiced their concerns about others observing them, I find that both of them were relatively reckless in their behaviour, no doubt fueling rumours about them being involved in an affair. While MC may have been uncomfortable, there is no evidence to indicate this appeared to be so. To the contrary, the Respondent and MC presented as a couple involved in some kind of intimate consensual relationship which many suspected was an affair. In any case, I am unable to find on the evidence, on a balance of probabilities, that these alleged incidents constitute a series of distinct sexual assaults.
A.B. then told another lie to Lyon involving the defendant Chelsey Rooney.
AB email To Lyon continued
The other woman who was assaulted and who has been gathering stories from other women is going to get in touch with you before your meeting today and give you all the information she has.
Her name is Chelsea Rooney. She is a UBC Creative Writing Alumni. I gave her your cell and home number. I hope that is okay
This is another lie, as is the subject line “contact about other assaults/harassment.” No one else brought forward an allegation of sexual assault against Galloway. Rooney brought frivolous complaints to Madam Justice Boyd about Facebook posts and other distortions which were all dismissed with Boyd delivering a scathing rebuke to Rooney as a biased witness.
Lyon responded to A.B. with affection and concern.
Lyon to A.B. cc Maillard
Subject: RE:-voicemail #2-fr-om-Steve
Thank you for this, [A.B.] I'm able to access it just fine. Do we have your permission to play this for faculty at today's meeting?
Glad we were able to talk on the phone just now - back in touch very soon. Big hugs
AB email To Lyon cc: Keith Maillard
Subject: RE:-voicemail #2-fr-om-Steve
Yes. Play it. Do you think it is helpful for our case against him? I really hope so.
Before the emergency meeting to decide Galloway’s fate even happened, A.B. was referring to the building takedown as “our case” and working closely with Maillard and Lyon to make it to all tenured and tenure track faculty.
Lyon and Maillard read A.B.’s “CBC lawyers.docx” and played the voicemails to the tenured faculty. In his sworn affidavit Professor Bryan Wade stated, “Associate Professor Lyon explained to us that these recordings demonstrated Galloway's guilt.”
Even an affidavit filed in support of Lyon by Professor Rhea Tregobov gets to the heart of the matter, “I would characterize Professor Lyon's conduct at the Faculty Meeting as that of a mother bear: she was fiercely protective of AB.”
Wade also swore that both Maillard and Lyon presented only portions of the facts and allegations as directed or authorized by A.B. and that Lyon said that she had promised A.B. that some sort of outcome or decision would be reached.
An outcome was reached. UBC suspended Galloway as department chair and he was incarcerated in Ohio after Annabel Lyon phoned the police there and said that he was both suicidal and manipulative. Dean of Arts Gage Averill breached Galloway’s privacy by announcing his suspension in a public press release. Syed broke the story of Galloway’s suspension on Twitter. The Fifth Estate ran School Of Secrets with an apology from Martha Piper.
The kicker of it all was of course that A.B.’s allegations fell apart and Madam Justice Boyd (Ret.) found that even on the balance of probabilities the assaults did not occur. She arrived at this conclusion without seeing the evidence now available. She did find on a balance of probabilities that Galloway sexually harassed A.B. under UBC policy. If Boyd were working from the facts now available, on the record, this harassment finding would likely not stand up since it relied on A.B.’s credibility, which is now all but obliterated.
Since then, the evidence points to the fact that A.B. fabricated the harassment and rape allegations in the same way she fabricated the CBC Legal team lie and all her other admitted or provable inconsistent testimony. Even the most basic fact checking would have, or should have, stopped Maillard and Lyon in their tracks. But it didn’t. Which brings me to another bombshell that we learned in court last week as defence counsel tried to depict it as irrelevant.
In the summer of 2015, before there was any talk of rape allegations, Keith Maillard (A.B.’s thesis advisor) and Annabelle Lyon (A.B.’s second reader) signed off on her thesis despite the fact it was incomplete, thereby bestowing a Master of Fine Arts degree from The University of British Columbia on A.B., despite the fact that she had not completed the single most important aspect of any creative writing degree: the writing of a thesis.
Under cross-examination Lyon confessed to signing off on A.B.’s thesis despite her clear understanding that it was incomplete. Later that day Maillard (who shares a lawyer with Lyon but was not privy to Lyon’s disclosure) then outright denied doing so under cross-examination. Lyon testified that she was reluctant to sign off but Maillard convinced her.
“He asked for a phone call,” she said, “and we talked on the phone and he basically said, you know, she needs to graduate. She needs to be finished. The work that she has done is excellent, please sign off on this.”
Lyon said she pushed back to the extent that she could but that she relented to Maillard out of deference and respect for his seniority. When asked if this compromised her, Lyon said that she was not proud of it but that she wasn’t compromised because she disclosed it to the Dean, “after all of this stuff went down.” The Dean in question is Gage Avril who released the memorandum that would set in motion the destruction of Galloway’s life as he knew it.
Disclosing academic fraud to your Dean, in the heat of a scandal in which you and the Dean are both implicated, is hard to interpret as an act of transparency. UBC administration was in damage control and they dug their heels in with a fierce defence of anyone involved in Galloway’s takedown. In a press release, UBC Vice President of External Relations, Phillip Steenkamp (current president and vice-chancellor of Royal Roads University) stated that in light of aspersions cast on the actions and motives of UBC faculty members, students and administrators, UBC wanted to express their “unequivocal support for those involved in the case.”
I believe Lyon when she says that it wasn’t held against her by A.B.. In regard to Maillard, all we know at this point is that he denied it under cross-examination. If Dean Averill was informed that A.B. had her degree conferred on her fraudulently and he took no action, then every degree awarded in his faculty, or across every faculty at UBC, has been degraded.
Whatever the case 2015 certainly would not have been a good time to discipline two professors at the center of this massive scandal for academic fraud; it was a tough year at UBC.
Too many levers had already been pulled.