Coun. Sam Waddington at the Sept. 4 city council meeting defending his expenses for national conferences and Federation of Canadian Municipalities board meetings. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

B.C. mayoral candidate files defamation suit over sexual assault accusations

Chilliwack city councillor calls posts on Facebook ‘malicious, high-handed, callous, and arrogant’

Chilliwack mayoral candidate Sam Waddington has filed a defamation lawsuit against a woman who publicly accused him of being a “sexual assault perpetrator.”

Waddington’s civil claim filed in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Sept. 26 is against Jody Beugeling for a post she made on a Facebook page on Sept. 13.

The post, which is included in the civil claim in the statement of facts section, calls him “power hungry” and “privileged” and Beugeling expresses her anger that Waddington allegedly sexually assaulted an unnamed woman.

“I believe his victim and I will make sure as many people as possible know what he did,” the post reads in part.

“Sam Waddington your #timesup.”

In the claim filed by his lawyer Peter Thornton, the “defamatory words” are said to lower Waddington’s reputation “in the estimation of reasonable members of society.”

“As a result of the publication of the Defamatory Words and the repetitions, republications, and rebroadcasts of the Defamatory Words, the Plaintiff has been injured in his feelings, in his personal and professional character and reputation, and in his office and business,” the claim states. “The Plaintiff has also suffered personal embarrassment and humiliation as a result of the publication of the Defamatory Words.”

The claim calls Beugeling’s conduct “malicious, high-handed, callous, and arrogant,” stating the words “displayed a wanton and flagrant disregard for the Plaintiff.”

Waddington is seeking punitive and aggravated damages, although the amounts are not listed in the claim.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack lawyer talks defamation during the municipal election

Waddington told The Progress Tuesday that these same claims came up four years ago when he first ran for city council

“Such allegations are a complete fabrication and I have taken steps to assert my legal rights in regards to this defamation of my character,” he said, adding that he went so far as to pay $500 to take a polygraph, which confirmed the allegations are untrue.

Waddington asserts that given the timing of the allegations, as with the discussion at city council about his expenses, the sexual assault allegation is political in nature, meant to hijack his campaign.

• READ MORE: Waddington expense claims being sent to the RCMP

”Unfortunately, it is now clear to me that, contrary to their agreement to do so four years ago, the individuals making these allegations have not ceased their defamation of my character,” he said in a statement. “Furthermore, it is clear that their motivations for doing so are political in nature, given the fact that these allegations only surfaced again when I announced my candidacy for Mayor of Chilliwack.”

Beugeling told The Progress she was unable to comment on the civil claim filed against her at this time.

He said that on the advice of legal counsel he will not be publicly speaking about the allegations further.

In a story posted on The Progress website just a day before this lawsuit was filed, Chilliwack lawyer Brian Vickers warned of about the dangers of flippant behaviour on social media and the risk of defamation lawsuits.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack lawyer talks defamation during the municipal election

“A lot of people don’t know how rough it can be if you go posting on Facebook,” Vickers said in an interview. “Especially if you have assets.”

Presumably, the defendant in the Waddington case will have to use the defence of truth and/or fair comment.

“Be very careful,” Vickers told The Progress when asked what advice he has for those making controversial social media posts. “Only report things with facts that they can verify, and make sure those facts are put out on whatever they are saying…. Even the defence of fair comment is not available to a comment based on facts that are untrue or misstated.”


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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