Catholic group says man’s site is defamatory. Defendant says he’s ‘holding up a mirror to things I have found’ after daughter’s case.
The Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto is suing a man for $50 million for creating an allegedly “intentionally confusing” and defamatory website with a similar domain name to their own website, according to a statement of claim filed Wednesday.
The website misuses the CCAS trademark and brand and is intended to undermine the work of the organization, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit, which contains allegations that have not been proven in court, also claims that the 52-year-old man launched an “ugly campaign” of intimidation, defamation, invasion of privacy and threats against CCAS employees and their family members in a series of online posts, following the CCAS apprehending his daughter and placing her in foster care for four months before she was returned to him and his wife.
“It is clear (the defendant) intends to create an environment of danger for CCAS and its staff and must be stopped from his nefarious course of conduct with the assistance of this honorable court,” the statement of claim alleges.
The man also claims to have somehow obtained more than 16,000 internal emails from the CCAS upon activating his website and is threatening to release them to the public, the lawsuit alleges.
In a post on his Facebook page referring to the emails, the man is alleged to have written: “I am about to feed you a diet of fear until I feel (my daughter) has been avenged . . . my revenge against you will never end.”
In court Thursday morning, a judge granted an interim injunction with the man’s consent. It required the website be taken down and prohibits the man from communicating with CCAS staff about anything unrelated to his daughter, from posting about anything intimidating or threatening about the CCAS online, and from “engaging in false and misleading business practices that utilize the CCAS trademark and business name.”
The lawyer representing the CCAS, Mark Ellis, said he could only say that the CCAS was “satisfied” with the terms of the interim injunction.
A statement of defence has not yet been filed.
In an interview, the man, who is not being named to protect the identity of his young daughter, says he denies the allegations and intends to vigorously defend himself.
He claims the CCAS wrongfully apprehended his daughter and that she was mistreated while in the care of a foster family. (The CCAS says his claims are “without foundation and substance” in the statement of claim.) He is currently seeking $72,000 in legal costs from the CCAS related to the apprehension.
What the CCAS describes as intimidation “is holding up a mirror to things I have found in documents,” the man said, adding that his online posts have been taken out of context. “It’s perfectly legal to look into any public record on any person and publish it.”
He also says he notified the CCAS shortly after receiving the internal emails to figure out what to do with them and never heard back until the lawsuit was filed.
The man says he set up the website “www.ccastoronto.ca” three weeks ago to help parents fight the CAS, to bring attention to the flaws in the system and to hold the CAS accountable. (The CCAS website is www.torontoccas.org ).
The website promotes the “Canadian Coalition for Accountability in Social Work” going by the acronym CCAS and uses a modified version of the CCAS logo.
“I am a parent who is extremely pissed off,” the man said.