We have many clients who have survived abuse at the hands of those who are in positions of power over them. We always admire the strength and resilience of our clients, and stand in awe when such a survivor feels strong enough, and safe enough to tell their story in their own words, as Anne-Marie Robinson has here: in this article and in this episode of The Current.
While Anne-Marie Robinson’s efforts to have Douglas Walker held accountable through the criminal justice system failed (as often happens), her civil suit, where she named both Douglas Walker and the Toronto District School Board as defendants, was successful. It was settled by the Toronto District School Board in August 2020.
The criminal system is focused narrowly on the accused person and whether a crime was committed, and, if a crime is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, on what constitutes appropriate punishment.
The civil justice system is different. A lower standard of proof than “beyond a reasonable doubt” applies, and in appropriate cases, it allows for a broader net to be cast for accountability purposes. In short, a civil suit allows for accountability not only from a perpetrator of sexualized wrongdoing, but also from an enabler of unlawful conduct, such as an employer or organization that placed the perpetrator in a position of power and trust over the survivor. It also provides survivors with compensation for the significant harms and losses they have suffered.
It was a genuine privilege to represent Anne-Marie Robinson in her successful civil lawsuit, and we are so proud to see that our former client has continued her work to empower other survivors by bravely and publicly telling her story of sexual exploitation and abuse by her former high school music teacher, Douglas Walker.
As Anne-Marie Robinson’s former lawyer, Elizabeth Grace, offers the following observation: “Anne-Marie is a remarkable woman. Her motivation has always been selfless. Going public as she has now done is her way of saying there is no shame in being a survivor and you are not alone. She is right. I am so pleased she has been able to connect with another brave survivor of former music teacher Douglas Walker, and that she herself is no longer alone.”
Anne-Marie has told her story, and spoken her truth. When asked about her legal team, at Lerners, she said, “I really enjoyed working with Elizabeth and her team. They were caring and compassionate and are leaders in the area of teacher on student sexual assault.”