University of King’s College begins review of retired professor charged with historical sexual assault

Halifax Regional Police charged retired professor Wayne John Hankey with one count of sexual assault in relation to an incident that occurred in 1988. Global News file

The University of King’s College says it has made the first steps in conducting a review after a retired professor has been charged with sexual assault for an incident that occurred in 1988 on campus.

“I promised a third-party independent review to determine the facts and an appropriate response,” said the school’s president, Bill Lahey, in a Thursday memo.

Four weeks after Wayne John Hankey was charged, the school sent a letter to its community advising that a Toronto-based lawyer has been appointed to conduct the review. King’s appointed Janice Rubin, and her firm Rubin Thomlinson LLP.

“She is a pioneer in the field of workplace investigations, assessments and reviews,” the memo read.

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On Feb. 1, 76-year-old Hankey was charged with one count of sexual assault for an incident that is alleged to have occurred while he was a professor at the University of King’s College in 1988.

The incident was reported to police in September 2020.

When the charge was announced, King’s released a statement acknowledging that Hankey retired from the university in 2015 and has since been an Inglis professor.

Dalhousie University said Hankey is a retired classics professor at the university, though he was still teaching one course and has decided to step down.

“We can confirm that Dr. Wayne Hankey is a retired professor who has agreed to step back from the one course he was teaching at Dalhousie in light of the circumstances,” said Dalhousie University spokesperson Janet Bryson in a Feb. 1 email.

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King’s review will determine facts surrounding the 1988 allegations against Wayne Hankey.

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According to the terms of reference of the review released on Thursday, the purpose of the review is to make recommendations to the university. These will contain the following:

  • learnings King’s should take from the matters within the scope of the review
  • measures King’s should take “to ensure King’s is a safe community that supports the survivors and victims of sexual violence”
  • ensuring King’s responds “effectively and accountably to sexualized violence in ways that are survivor/victim-centered”

The review will also consider that Hankey was disciplined in 1991, after a former student made a complaint that the student had been sexually abused by Hankey while at King’s.

“It must also consider, in accordance with principles of fairness, any other disclosures of similar incidents regarding Dr. Hankey that may be brought forward,” the terms read.

Click to access 20210304TermsReference-IndependentReview.pdf

Lahey said in the memo that the terms were designed in consultation with Janice Rubin, students, faculty, staff, alumni and board members.

One document missing

“We have also been cooperating with the Halifax Police, who contacted King’s last month asking for employee records pertaining to Dr. Hankey,” Lahey wrote.

While King’s has gathered all available information, one document regarding the 1991 discipline is “no longer available.”

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That document included a report from the committee that looked into charges leading to Hankey being disciplined by King’s in 1991.

“While there is institutional memory about the work of this committee and ancillary documents pertaining to the committee’s work, a comprehensive search led us to conclude that the university’s copy of the report has not existed for a number of years,” read the memo.

However, Lahey said the scope of the review is broad enough to include this matter.

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In addition, Lahey said Rubin and her team will determine how to proceed with the review, not the university.

“The university will not be saying anything that could interfere with the credibility and effectiveness of the review… As their work gets underway, more will be communicated about their process,” the memo read.

Lahey said an email address was set up for the review, “should anyone wish to reach out to them on a confidential basis.”

The email is:

“King’s will be fully transparent,” Lahey wrote.

“As the Review moves forward, be assured that our silence is born of respect for the process and not any avoidance of it.

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“When the Review concludes you will hear from King’s again. And at that time, King’s will be as transparent as the law allows. I am determined that future generations will not find us wanting.”

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