Skip to content

May we suggest

News / April 11, 2019

Sexual Assault Case of Former OCADU Instructor Heads to Court

This week, a jury heard testimony about incidents in a university darkroom, the Toronto Star reports
A view of the entrance to OCAD University. Photo: Facebook. A view of the entrance to OCAD University. Photo: Facebook.
A view of the entrance to OCAD University. Photo: Facebook. A view of the entrance to OCAD University. Photo: Facebook.

In October 2016, Toronto Police charged artist Keesic Douglas with sexual assault. At that time, police said the alleged assault had occurred while Douglas was an instructor at OCAD University in Toronto.

Now, in April 2019, more details are coming to light as the case is being heard in front of a jury in a Toronto courtroom. According to court reporting in the Toronto Star, the alleged assault happened in December 2013 in a photo darkroom at OCAD University.

At the time of those December 2013 events, Douglas was 40 years old. The student who went to the police with sexual assault concerns was, at that time, 21 years old. Her identity is now protected by a publication ban, says the Star.

In court on April 5, the former student testified that Douglas groped her breasts, thighs and crotch in a photo darkroom at OCAD University.

In court on April 8, Douglas testified he “sensually massaged” her lower back while in the photo darkroom. According to the Star, Douglas stated in court, “I thought that she was attracted to me.”

The Crown attorney disagreed with Douglas’ implications. “You’re trying to minimize what really happened, which was groping her breasts, thighs and crotch area,” said Crown attorney Dave Mitchell as reported in the Star.

When contacted for comment, a representative of OCAD University underlined its policies around sexual assault.

“The safety and wellbeing of our students and community is a top priority,” said the OCADU spokesperson via email. “OCAD University wishes to reiterate its commitment to fostering and maintaining a learning environment that provides equitable conditions and treatment to all students.”

On December 5, 2016, the university’s board approved its current Policy on Prevention and Response to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. The policy notes that the university is maintaining annual statistics on disclosed and reported incidents of sexual violence on and off campus—though external reporting of these statistics is governed by legislative requirements.

“The university has strong policies governing intimate and close personal relationships and the prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence,” continues the email from an OCADU spokesperson. “We are dedicated to working with survivors, first responders, experts in sexual violence, community organizations and the wider campus community, to prevent and respond to instances of sexual assault.”

A more detailed report of this week’s court testimony in the Keesic Douglas case is available at the Toronto Star

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.