Former Halifax professor Michael Kydd, who resigned after saying he had a sexual relationship with a student, has filed a lawsuit over a nude photo of his genitals that was posted to Twitter.
Kydd is seeking $1 million in damages from Twitter, CTV’s owner Bell Media, his former employer Mount Saint Vincent University and the woman with whom he says he had an affair.
His allegations against each defendant differ but include defamation, breach of privacy including “public disclosure of embarrassing or private facts without consent,” breach of copyright and negligence.
None of the allegations contained in the statement of claim filed in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has been tested and no statements of defence have been filed.
Kydd resigned from the university in January 2015, saying he had a consensual relationship in the fall of 2014 with the woman, who was close to his age and a part-time distance studies student.
“(She) alleged to the authorities at Mount Saint Vincent University that the relationship she had with Kydd was not consensual,” the statement of claim says. “She later made similar allegations to the RCMP and accused him of sexual assault.”
The woman declined comment. The Canadian Press does not name people who say they’ve been sexually assaulted unless they agree to be identified.
The lawsuit alleges that while the two were still dating and Kydd was unaware she had made allegations against him, she asked him multiple times to send a photo of his genitals. After numerous requests, he relented and sent her a photo, the court documents allege.
Woman’s claims of sexual assault were misleading: lawsuit
She got in touch with Glen Canning, the father of Rehtaeh Parsons, and “convinced him she was being abused,” the documents say.
“(The woman) misled Canning into believing she was the victim of sexual assault, and convinced him to post the photo on Twitter, which he did on Jan. 8, 2015,” the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit says Canning – whose teenage daughter attempted suicide and was taken off life support after a photo of what her family says was a sexual assault was circulated among her peers – faced an almost immediate backlash.
People were “shocked and appalled that he would post a nude photo of a person without their consent,” the lawsuit says.
The suit says he quickly removed the photo and reposted a redacted version. It says CTV then posted the redacted version on its website before swiftly changing course and taking it down.
Canning did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but he told Metro that he never posted an uncensored version of the photo.
Bell Media declined comment as the matter is before the courts.
The lawsuit alleges Twitter is aware that intimate images are posted on the social-media website without the consent of the person pictured.
“Twitter could have prevented the original publication of Kydd’s photo by implementing policies to prevent such abuse,” the lawsuit says. “But it did not do so, and has not implemented any such policies to date, although it is aware of the problem.”
Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mount Saint Vincent University said it received the notice of action last week and was reviewing it with legal counsel.
Kydd alleges the university received his resignation on the same day the photo was posted, and did not do anything to protect his reputation or to prevent further publication of the intimate image.