Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company is in hot water. Both the theater company itself and its founder, actor Albert Schultz, have been named in a civil lawsuit that accuses Schultz of sexual misconduct towards actresses.
Rather than taking legal action, the four plaintiffs have chosen to go the civil suit route. Criminal defense lawyer Edward Prutschi says we’ll likely see more of this. Women see sexual assault criminal cases like Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby where the women are torn apart and there aren’t any legal consequences in the end. Women want justice, and civil suits often provide a better chance of that.
There is a stereotype to view women who accuse men of sexual assault and then file a civil suit as “gold diggers”. Prutschi says that’s not a fair evaluation. Money is another form of justice, one more easily obtained than legal consequences. Money becomes a proxy for justice. There is also the fact that women get to demand answers in civil cases, whereas they might not get to in criminal cases. The defendant doesn’t have to take the stand in criminal cases, but they do in civil ones. This gives accusers a chance to ask questions, even if they don’t like the answers.