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Lawsuit alleges that B.C. city councillor sexually abused teenager

Revelstoke city council member Cody Younker. City of Revelstoke

A city councillor in Revelstoke, B.C., is being accused of sexually abusing a teenager, according to a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

The plaintiff, only referred to as Jane Doe, claims that Cody Younker sexually assaulted her as a 15-year-old girl while he was an activity chaperone at a Langley high school in 2014.

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The court document, filed on Jan. 18, claims the teenager, who was in Grade 10 at Walnut Grove Secondary at the time and suffering from mental health issues, participated in several hikes organized by the school district.

Younker was a “junior leader” for the hikes, and, following one trip, he asked the teen for her phone number, the lawsuit claims.

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“At all material times, the defendant Younker knew or ought to have known that the plaintiff was a vulnerable student suffering from mental health concerns,” said the court document.

“On the first of the series of hikes during the Harrison Hike Experience, the defendant specifically inquired into the plaintiff’s personal life, and the plaintiff disclosed to him her struggles with mental health, including her suicidal thoughts.”

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After receiving her phone number, the plaintiff alleges that Younker began texting her that same evening.

“Younker soon offered to help the plaintiff with her homework,” the lawsuit claims. “He began picking her up after school for ‘homework hangouts.’

“In or around May and June 2014, Younker committed acts of sexual assault and battery upon the plaintiff.”

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The plaintiff claims she reported the alleged abuse to a friend, who then contacted the Langley School District, which is also named as a defendant.

The plaintiff argued the district had a “duty of care to keep the plaintiff safe from harm caused by any volunteer or mentor to whom they introduced and referred the vulnerable plaintiff.”

The lawsuit does not mention police intervention, but the B.C. Prosecution Service told Global News in a statement that Langley RCMP submitted a file in connection with this matter in 2014.

“The file was returned to the RCMP for further information and resubmitted by the RCMP in 2019,” said Dan McLaughlin. “After reviewing the file, charges were not approved as the BCPS concluded the charge assessment standard for proceeding with criminal charges was not met.”

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The plaintiff is seeking costs for damages, including loss of earning capacity.

“Seven years have passed and I am now 22 years old,” the plaintiff said in a press release issued via her lawyer, Sandra Kovacs.

“The memories of the trauma and betrayal that I experienced at just 15 have haunted me every day these past seven years, and they continue to haunt me today.

“I also feel a sincere responsibility to bring these dark events to light in order to achieve a sense of justice for myself and for other young women who otherwise suffer in silence, women who are denied access to justice for the harms they suffer.”

The City of Revelstoke said it is aware of the allegations against Younker, and that he has requested a leave of absence.

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Mayor Gary Sulz said laws permit a council member to be absent from council meetings for 60 days without consequences.

“Council may consider allowing an extended leave of absence beyond that time frame,” said Sulz. “Any decision on granting an extended leave will be made at a future date. Mr. Younker requested that the leave of absence be unpaid.”

Younker did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

In an email to Global News, the Langley School District said “it became aware of a lawsuit involving serious allegations of misconduct against a former school district volunteer. At this time, we have no further information about these allegations and are looking into them.”

It added that “as always, the district’s priority is the health and safety of students and staff.”

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None of the allegations has been proven in court and a statement of defence has not been filed.

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