Kelowna judge makes woman pay for unfounded public allegations against ex - InfoNews

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Kelowna judge makes woman pay for unfounded public allegations against ex

Kelowna Law Courts
December 10, 2019 - 7:30 AM

A woman who used YouTube, Facebook, email and various other means to spread unfounded allegations about her ex husband has been ordered to pay thousands of dollars in damages for defamation.

Megan Huxley is a former teacher who was sued by her ex husband, Benjamin Tarney, and his employer, Olds College, for statements and comments made in emails and posts on social media between Dec. 14, 2016 and Sept. 21, 2018.

“Huxley has made some of the most devastating types of comments with the specific intention of reaching every possible person,” said Justice Allan Betton in a decision published out of Kelowna this week. “Aggravating it is the graphic, angry delivery, contradicting any suggestion of simply wanting to convey information. Fortunately, the evidence suggests very limited success in reaching a large audience.”

Betton awarded non-pecuniary damages of $2,500, aggravated damages of $2,500 and punitive damages of $5,000 to both Tarney and Olds College as well as their court costs.

According to the decision, she became convinced Tarney harmed one of their daughters despite having no proof. Police investigated twice and found no medical, anecdotal or other evidence but that didn’t stop Huxley from hitting social media and sending emails directly to his employer, employees and others calling him a “pedophile” and a “predator” among other defamatory statements.

Tarney, a custodial supervisor at Alberta's Olds College, shares three children — aged 31 to 25 — with Huxley.

The two were married on Oct. 24, 1987 and divorced in 2007.

Their two older children lived away from their parents and the youngest lived with Tarney. According to Betton’s decision, all three have a limited and estranged relationship with their mother, who from 2016 to 2018 wrote hundreds of messages, including emails to staff and faculty of Olds College about Tarney.

One of many examples was a November 2017 email that had the subject line: CAMPUS SECURITY.

“WHY DOES OLDS COLLEGE EMPLOY A VIOLENT PEDOPHILE, PREDATOR???”

The genesis of Huxley's actions came from events that occurred over 30 years ago, when the eldest child was an infant, Betton wrote.

Huxley indicated that she observed blood in their daughter’s diaper and when they went to the hospital for a medical examination, no health issue was identified. Years later that daughter told her mother she had a medical issue and Huxley became convinced that Tarney caused it.

She contacted the Didsbury RCMP in 2016 and made an assault complaint but without any evidence, it was deemed unfounded. Huxley remained dissatisfied with the RCMP investigation and began making the impugned statements.

“She testified that her objective was to use various formats to make as many people as possible aware of her conclusions regarding Tarney,” Betton wrote. “She wanted to have her information repeated as broadly as possible but with a specific desire to reach those who might be on the Olds College properties to which Tarney had access.”

Betton wrote that Huxley’s initial report to police about her concerns were reasonable and appropriate steps.

“Her rejection of the results of that investigation and the use of the absence of evidence as a basis to prove diligence are not reasonable,” he wrote. "Relying on unidentified third parties whose qualifications and knowledge of facts are unknown does nothing to bolster Huxley’s reliance on this defence."

“There is no basis in the evidence for any of the defences asserted.”

Huxley had been very clear with the court that absent an order she has every intention of making further statements. Betton ordered Huxley, also known as Sherry Tarney or Sherri Doiron to not publish any more defamatory statements in any form and to remove defamatory statements already published..


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