Mandi Gray, who is still describing herself as a sexual assault survivor despite her alleged attacker’s conviction being overturned, is taking York University back to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal for allegedly breaching its settlement with her.
Gray was both a graduate student and teaching assistant at the university at the time of her alleged assault – Jan. 31, 2015 — as was her alleged assailant, Mustafa Ururyar.
The two had met and begun sleeping together, a consensual casual affair, about two weeks before the alleged assault.
That night, at a party with other union members, she texted Ururyar and invited him to the pub, saying, “Come drink and then we can have hot sex.”
This was a text message Gray didn’t keep or tell Toronto Police about when she reported the alleged attack on Feb. 2 that year (Ururyar was charged with sexual assault). As she inimitably put it in cross-examination, “I didn’t think it was relevant to him raping me.”
Ururyar testified at trial in his own defence and insisted the sex that night was consensual.
Gray also filed a lengthy complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) that June, alleging that the university had failed her and other victims of sexual violence by not providing suitable expert counselling.
t trial before Ontario Court Judge Marvin Zuker, Ururyar was convicted in a judgement so florid and belittling of Ururyar that two Superior Court judges later deemed his language over the top and his reasoning incomprehensible.
One of those judges freed Ururyar on bail, pending his appeal; the other overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial.
That second trial never happened, with the prosecutor deciding it wouldn’t be in the interests of justice, and the matter was resolved in December last year with a common peace bond.
The human rights complaint was settled in November of 2016, with the university and Gray issuing a joint statement shortly afterwards, saying “although the parties were unable to reach an agreement on many issues”, part of the resolution would see York “collaborate with sexual assault centres to provide specialized counselling to sexual assault survivors from the York community.”
As the joint statement put it, “The other terms of the settlement are confidential.”
But a week ago, Gray and her lawyer Joanna Birenbaum filed the new complaint, alleging York had breached the settlement, and made a portion of the settlement public.
According to documents filed at the HRTO, York had agreed to “create a partnership with one or more sexual assault centres, one of which will be the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic” to provide counselling services from outside the university to sex assault victims.
The university, the complaint says, was to do this for four years.
Gray alleges that York breached the four-year commitment by ending its formal contract with the clinic at the end of June. She is seeking damages for the exacerbation of the original “institutional betrayal”.
But Amanda Dale, executive director of the Schlifer Clinic, told the National Post Tuesday in an email that York had hired a counsellor.
There was “no issue” between the two organizations, she said, except the university “felt more clients could have been served” but that this was because the short-term duration of the clinic’s contracts made planning difficult and the lack of a promotion plan meant the clinic’s services weren’t well-known on campus.
“On the whole,” Dale said, “I would characterize our relationship with York as genial.”
York spokesperson Barbara Joy echoed those comments.
She said the university has created its own Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support and Education, hired a new counsellor, given the centre a dedicated space and is in the process of training faculty, staff and student leaders.
York, Joy said,
considers the Schlifer Clinic one of the university’s external partners.
She said the university is “very confident the university is in full compliance with the terms of settlement” and will provide the tribunal with a detailed response.
Gray was this week tweeting links to the documents, including some of the once-confidential minutes of settlement.
Her lawyer, Birenbaum, said in an email Tuesday that “confidentiality provisions of a settlement assume the terms are respected”, and don’t “insulate a breaching party from a lawsuit for breach. The only terms of the settlement that Gray has referred to … are those that were breached by York.”
She said Ururyar’s “conviction and successful appeal have nothing to do with the human rights” case.
Presumably, that’s why the newest documents refer to him only as “M.U.”
As for another question – whether she and Gray will always refer to Gray as a sexual assault survivor and repeat the overturned allegations – Birenbaum said, “It is trite law that the fact someone was acquitted of a criminal charge does not mean nothing happened … It is simply not the case that a person can only refer to themselves as a survivor of sexual assault if they go to the police and a conviction has been entered.”
She asked that it be pointed out that “Mr. Ururyar signed a peace bond. A peace bond is generally an acknowledgement that the other party fears or has reason to fear for her safety.”
In other words, Mandi Gray can talk about her “rape” and call herself a survivor until the cows come home.
And what Ontario Court Judge Melvyn Green told Mustafa Ururyar, the day the case was settled – that, “The presumption of innocence is effectively restored to you” – was lovely sounding, but fundamentally meaningless.
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