Former University of Alberta students sues professor, university alleging sexual assaults

A former University of Alberta student is suing their former history professor and the university for alleged sexual assaults.

In a statement of claim filed in September 2020, Alix Kemp alleges former history professor Andrew Gow had non-consensual sexual contact with Kemp in his office and at his home in 2006. 

Kemp further alleges Gow had a history of grooming and engaging in sex with female students that was well known within the department and by the university’s management.

The allegations contained in the lawsuit have not been proven in court.

Both Gow and the university, in separate statements of defence, deny the allegations and have asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit with costs. Kemp’s lawyer confirmed the lawsuit is proceeding.

Gow was a history professor in the university’s department of history and classics from 1993 until 2018. A university spokesperson said Gow is now retired and has no association with the university. 

The lawsuit says Kemp moved to Edmonton from Indianapolis in July 2005 and was a 19-year-old, second-year student when they enrolled in a history class taught by Gow.

At that time, the lawsuit states, Kemp was homesick, struggling academically and in a legal dispute with their biological father over the payment of tuition and fees.

Kemp was also in the process of discovering and reconciling their gender identity.

The lawsuit says, for these reasons, Kemp was vulnerable and Gow helped Kemp to “navigate the challenges they were facing.”

No prior consent alleged

The lawsuit alleges Gow, without prior consent, kissed Kemp on the mouth in his office in 2006 and later the same year performed oral sex on Kemp, and sexuallly touched Kemp, at his house.

“Kemp was on an academic probation plan at the time of the incident, and was concerned about their grades and if they would be able to continue their studies at the University of Alberta,” the lawsuit states. 

“Kemp was worried that if they confronted Gow about the incident immediately after it occurred, Kemp would be impacted negatively in some manner.”

Six months after the alleged incident at Gow’s house, the lawsuit alleges Kemp began to have flashbacks and they experienced “personality changes, feeling rage, and uncontrollable crying.”

Kemp was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Kemp, inspired by the #MeToo Movement, disclosed the incident with Gow on Twitter in June 2020.

Allegations denied by professor, university

The lawsuit says Kemp was then told by other students and colleagues of Gow that the professor has boasted about his sexual liaisons with students and that he frequently had intercourse with students in his office.

The lawsuit alleges the university knew that Gow targeted and groomed students and that he had done so for decades.

Gow’s brief statement of defence denies every allegation. 

The university, in its statement of defence, also denied all the allegations. It said the first time it learned of any interactions of a sexual nature between Gow and any university student is when Kemp posted a Tweet on June 23, 2020 alleging a sexual assault.

The university said the allegations against Gow are unrelated to the scope of his employment and the university denies “vicarious liability.” 

Its statement of defence, the university says the campus was safe and that any injuries, damages or losses are not causally related to any action, or inaction, by the university.

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