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Five women who allege Ivan Henry sexually assaulted them file lawsuit

Keith Fraser

In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, five women claim that Ivan Henry sexually assaulted them in their Vancouver apartments during attacks that occurred from May 1981 to June 1982. (Postmedia Network/Files)

In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, five women claim that Ivan Henry sexually assaulted them in their Vancouver apartments during attacks that occurred from May 1981 to June 1982. (Postmedia Network/Files)

Five women who allege they were sexually assaulted by Ivan Henry, a man who spent 27 years behind bars before the courts found he’d been wrongfully convicted of being a serial rapist, have filed suit against the B.C. man.

In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, the five women claim that Henry sexually assaulted them in their Vancouver apartments during attacks that occurred from May 1981 to June 1982.

The women are only identified as Jane Doe Nos. 1 through 5 in the notice of civil claim filed in Vancouver late Friday.

"We need to hear the voice of every woman who has been sexually assaulted," J. Scott Stanley, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement released Monday. "This lawsuit is simply about making sure we hear the voices of those Jane Does."

Jane Doe No. 1 claims she was asleep in her East 16th Avenue apartment on May 5, 1981, when Henry entered her apartment by prying open the patio door. She says the defendant alleged that someone who lived there had ripped him off and asked about the location of her boyfriend.

“The defendant threatened Jane Doe No. 1 with a knife and sexually assaulted Jane Doe No. 1,” says the suit. “The defendant told Jane Doe No. 1 not to report him to the police because they would ask embarrassing questions.”

Similar circumstances involving sexual assaults allegedly committed by Henry are outlined in the cases of the four other women. The alleged victims claim they suffered “severe personal injuries,” including physical injury from sexual assaults, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and “moral injury.”

“The sexual assaults were committed intentionally and with reckless disregard to their effect on the plaintiffs,” says the suit. “The conduct of the defendant was calculated to inflict emotional suffering and psychological damages upon the plaintiffs.”

The suit also claims that Henry has conducted himself “outrageously and maliciously,” including trying to re-victimize the plaintiffs through the court process that led to his convictions, and by attempting to contact one or more of the plaintiffs from prison.

Unspecified general, aggravated, punitive and special damages are being sought by the plaintiffs.

Henry was arrested in July 1982 and charged with three counts of rape, two counts of attempted rape and five counts of indecent assault, involving eight different women.

In March 1983, Henry, representing himself at trial, was found guilty as charged, declared a dangerous offender and jailed indefinitely.

His initial appeal to the B.C. Court of Appeal was dismissed after he failed to come up with the $4,000 he needed to pay for the trial transcripts.

Henry maintained he was innocent while serving his sentence and filed numerous appeals, motions and applications from prison, all of which were dismissed. He carried a copy of a controversial police-photo lineup in a plastic container on his person, afraid that it would be stolen.

After his case was reviewed by a special prosecutor, the B.C. Court of Appeal released him on bail in 2009, and in October 2010 the province’s top court quashed all 10 convictions and substituted acquittals.

Henry then launched a civil suit against the B.C. government, the federal government and the City of Vancouver. During the trial, the federal government and city settled with Henry.

B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson awarded Henry $8 million in damages after concluding that the Crown’s wrongful disclosure of relevant information seriously infringed his right to a fair trial and demonstrated a “shocking disregard” for his Charter rights. In July 2016, the B.C. government announced it would not be appealing the damages award.

Marilyn Sandford, a lawyer for Henry, said that given the fact that there have been two recent court decisions — the B.C. Court of Appeal overturning his conviction and the B.C. Supreme Court awarding him damages — Henry is confident any future court will make a similar finding.

“Mr. Henry is an innocent man,” she said. “He didn’t commit these assaults. The identification evidence was fatally flawed. He wasn’t identified in any proper way at the time as the perpetrator.”

She added that Henry had learned to take everything in stride.

“He is surprised,” she said. “At the same time he has confidence now in the court system, which has vindicated him twice in recent years. And if necessary, he believes strongly that it will do it again.”

Some of the women alleging they were assaulted complained that they didn’t get a chance to testify at the civil trial, but Sandford said that at the time charges were laid some of the women gave multiple statements to police.

“Those are the best facts. That’s the best evidence as to what occurred. Thirty-five years later to claim that I didn’t get to say it, those memories don’t get better over 35 years.”

No response has yet been filed to the alleged victims’ lawsuit, which contains claims that have not been tested in court.

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kfraser@postmedia.com

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