Two Victoria Realtors accused of sexually assaulting a client at their real estate office in 2018 have filed a defense statement dismissing the allegations.
The men, Bowman Rutledge and Andy Rogers, are responding to a civil lawsuit filed against them last month in the BC Supreme Court by a former client.
She says she hired the two men in December 2017 to sell her house. It was sold two months later and changed in May 2018.
The plaintiff, whom CBC has agreed not to name because she is an alleged victim of sexual assault, says in August 2018 that she agreed to meet with Rutledge to celebrate the sale of her home.
Instead, her statement of claim states, she was met by both Rutledge and Rogers, who lured her to their place of business, Engel & Volkers Vancouver Island, on the premise that they would have to do some paperwork before going out.
She claims that on arrival at the office she was handed a glass of wine that was stunned and quickly began to feel sick and disoriented.
She says that was when both men allegedly sexually assaulted her. The suit also names the real estate agent.
The defense statement says both Rutledge and Rogers “support survivors of sexual violence and deny the alleged acts attributed to them.”
The answer says that Rutledge and the client had been friends for many years and became closer as they worked on the process of selling her home in the winter of 2017-2018.
It says the two regularly exchanged messages on social media, including the client “sending nude photos of himself to Rutledge.”
After her house was sold, the answer to the case is, Rutledge and the woman behind the civil lawsuit kept in touch via social media.
“Especially, [the plaintiff] continued to send suggestive messages and sought frequently, and in fact did, to engage Rutledge and Rogers in social contexts, “it states.
The respondent claims the woman asked to bring both Rutledge and Rogers for drinks that night, saying all three met outside her apartment building in downtown Victoria and then drove to the defendant’s real estate office, where they were given drinks in the boardroom.
“There was no discussion of a document requiring execution or transmission for any purpose. The sole purpose of attending the office was to stop for alcoholic beverages,” the defense said.
They deny having drugged her drink and deny “the details of the alleged sexual assault,” the response reads.
The statement described the office as having floor-to-ceiling windows facing a main street in Victoria, saying that “there is only a narrow strip of privacy on the windows.”
It says the boardroom is where the three spent “all material times.” The answer claims that after drinking in the office, all three continued to socialize and often communicate for many months.
It says the client often “liked” social media posts from real estate agents, and in the weeks after the evening at the office, he asked Rutledge if there was a possibility of a romantic relationship.
It also says she invited both men to join her center in the fall of 2020, and on January 28, 2021, she texted Rutledge to ask for information on potential oceanfront vacation rentals.
The client first reported allegations of sexual assault in February this year on @survivorstoriesproject – an anonymous Victoria-based Instagram account for sexual assault survivors.
At the time, Rutledge and Rogers were working for another real estate company, which fired them as soon as the allegations surfaced.
Following the civil lawsuit filed last month, Scott Piercy, owner of Engel & Volkers Vancouver Island, issued a statement saying, “We have just become aware that our company has been named in a civil lawsuit related to disturbing Claims Involving Two Former Independent Contractors We will act on the advice of a legal adviser and resolve these concerns through the legal system when we receive more information.
“We remain a dedicated, professional and ethical team of licensed counselors, and these allegations do not represent who we are. Any form of sexual misconduct is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our industry or our society.”
Vancouver attorney Janelle O’Connor is representing the plaintiff in the civil lawsuit. She did not respond to a request for comment within the deadline.
The Victoria’s lawyer for the defendants, Nav Parhar, declined to comment beyond the defense statement.