Matthew McKnight worked as a promoter in a managerial position at an Edmonton nightclub and bar. Over the period of six years between 2010 and 2016, he used his managerial position and the authority provided by the employer to ply young women with liquor and on occasion drugs, in order to vitiate their consent in relation to sexual activity.
In January 2020, he was convicted by a jury of sexually assaulting five women, and found not guilty of sexually assaulting eight others. He is expected to be sentenced in the coming week. The Crown is seeking a sentence of 22.5 years for McKnight.
Vicarious liability is a legal concept where an employer can be held liable for an employee’s unauthorized intentional wrongdoing. It is a no-fault form of strict liability. It requires that there be a “strong connection” between what the employer asks an employee to do (the risk by the employer’s enterprise) and the sexual assault or abuse.
In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada considered vicarious liability in the context of residential care facilities for children. Recently, the Ontario Superior Court found a school board vicariously liable for the sexual abuse of a student by the student’s former music teacher. McKnight’s use of his managerial position would appear to create a significant legal risk to the nightclub and bar that employed him based on the principles of vicarious liability.
Pursuing a civil lawsuit can play an important role in the healing process and for certain individuals. If you have questions about bringing a civil claim for sexual assault or sexual abuse, contact HMC Lawyers online or by phone at 1-800-480-3534 to arrange a confidential discussion.