Former Wilfrid Laurier TA Lindsay Shepherd, who released audio of meeting, sued by profs: lawyer
Former Wilfrid Laurier University teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd is being sued by two professors who say she should bear the responsibility of a defamation suit against them, according to her lawyer.
Nathan Rambukkana and Herbert Pimlott, who teach at the university, were sued by controversial University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson in June, after it was revealed that they compared his opinions to those of Adolf Hitler.
The statements by Rambukkana and Pimlott, made during a closed-door meeting, were recorded by Shepherd and subsequently released to Global News.
Shepherd’s lawyer, Howard Levitt, told Global News that the Laurier professors say Shepherd had control over the recording and the distribution of the conversation — so she should be responsible for any damages the statements caused.
Levitt said he has not seen the actual legal document.
WATCH: Jordan Peterson explains why he filed suit against Wilfrid Laurier University over Lindsay Shepherd case
“We have not seen the claim yet but understand that it has indeed been filed,” he said in an email.
Levitt lamented the claim, saying it makes little sense that Shepherd should be responsible for statements they made. The lawyer added that he suspects the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association is behind the lawsuit. The association did not respond to an inquiry from Global News by publication.
Shepherd tweeted about the lawsuit Thursday, and also spoke to Global News about it, saying that she isn’t sure of the details yet.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “I’m honestly wondering what they’re thinking and how this will reflect well on them and even help them.”
She added that she doesn’t have the funds to pay damages, if that is what the conclusion of the legal action turns out to be.
“Let’s say I actually end up having to pay money, which would be hilarious because they know I don’t have any money.”
Global News reached out to Rambukkana and Pimlott, but they did not respond. They have previously denied the allegations in Peterson’s lawsuit.
In a separate statement to Global News, Wilfrid Laurier University denied having any knowledge or involvement in the latest lawsuit.
WATCH: Laurier University ‘should be so fundamentally embarrassed,’ Howard Levitt says
“Wilfrid Laurier University is not aware of a legal action commenced by the professors against Ms. Shepherd, and the university itself has not advanced any legal claims against Ms. Shepherd,” the email, sent by the school’s communication director, Kevin Crowley, read.
At the heart of the controversy is a 2017 meeting between the professors, a Laurier staff member and Shepherd, who was then a teaching assistant in Rambukkana’s communications class.
According to Peterson’s unproven statement of claim, the disciplinary meeting was called after Shepherd showed students an excerpt of a TVOntario broadcast in which Peterson defends his opposition to gender-neutral pronouns.
Peterson, a University of Toronto psychology professor who has gained international attention for his views on free speech and refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns, alleges in his suit that the professors and staff member also accused him of being a “charlatan” over the course of the meeting.
WATCH: Laurier clears teaching assistant after controversy
Shepherd recorded the discussion and later posted the audio to Youtube, where Peterson — who is seeking $1.5 million in damages — alleges anyone searching his name online could be exposed to it.
“This has a significant impact on Peterson’s reputation among those with whom he deals, including fellow academics, future or existing students, the university where he works and those whom might read his books or listen to his lecture,” his statement of claim said.
Peterson further alleges Wilfrid Laurier University is liable for the conduct of its employees.
Shepherd, meanwhile, has filed her own lawsuit against Laurier claiming the university behaved negligently and left her unemployable in academia after the incident.
She said that the university has yet to respond to her lawsuit. Wilfrid Laurier University said it would fight both Peterson’s and Shepherd’s lawsuits.
— With files from Global News reporter Mike Drolet, The Canadian Press
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