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News / April 15, 2019

Former OCADU Instructor Found Not Guilty of Sexual Assault

A jury acquitted Keesic Douglas of sexual assault charges on April 13 at Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, in Toronto
A view of OCAD University in Toronto. Photo: bgilliard via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons License. A view of OCAD University in Toronto. Photo: bgilliard via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons License.
A view of OCAD University in Toronto. Photo: bgilliard via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons License. A view of OCAD University in Toronto. Photo: bgilliard via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons License.

On Saturday, a Toronto jury found artist and former OCAD University instructor Keesic Douglas not guilty of sexual assault.

The decision, covered by the Toronto Star, pertained to an incident reported to have happened in the OCAD University colour darkroom in December 2013.

Toronto Police indicted Douglas on the charge of sexual assault in October 2016.

The trial took place over the past couple of weeks in a courtroom at Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice on University Avenue in Toronto—three blocks away from OCAD University.

The name of the complainant in the case, who was a student at OCAD University in December 2013, is covered under a publication ban.

At trial, according to reporting in the Toronto Star, Douglas testified that he believed the complainant was “very interested” in him. The complainant testified that there wasn’t any “miscommunication” about her lack of such interest.

At trial, Douglas also testified he gave the complainant a brief back rub; the complainant testified he groped her breasts, thighs and crotch.

After the complainant came forward in 2016, OCAD University created new, more specific sexual-assault prevention policies and student-teacher relationship policies.

Prior to the indictment, there had been some policies related to assault at OCAD University—such as a Non-Academic Misconduct Policy (2009), a Response to Violent or Threatening Behaviour Policy (2011) and a Respectful Work & Learning Environment Policy (2010).

After the police indicted Douglas, OCAD University introduced a specific Policy on Prevention and Response to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (2017) as well as a Policy on Conflict of Interest in Faculty/Instructor-Student Relationships (2017). Both those policies took effect on January 1, 2017.

The former policy articulates that “consent cannot be assumed nor implied,” while the latter policy requires instructors to “disclose to their Dean of Faculty of other managerial supervisor, or designate, any close personal relationship they have with a student as soon as it exists.”

Leah Sandals

Leah Sandals is news and special sections editor at Canadian Art. She has also written for the Toronto Star, National Post and Globe and Mail, among other publications. She welcomes tips, corrections and comments anytime at leah@canadianart.ca.