News / Halifax

Former Halifax professor suing university, student, CTV and Twitter over 2015 intimate photo

Michael Kydd resigned from his teaching position at Mount Saint Vincent University in 2015 after admitting he had a sexual relationship with a student.

Michael Kydd addresses reporters at a Dartmouth lawyer's office in 2015.

Zane Woodford

Michael Kydd addresses reporters at a Dartmouth lawyer's office in 2015.

Michael Kydd, the former Mount Saint Vincent University professor who resigned after having a sexual relationship with a student, is suing the woman he had the relationship with, the university, Bell Media, and Twitter.

In a claim filed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court this week, Kydd is seeking $1 million, alleging breach of privacy, copyright, and more for the part that all four parties played in the distribution of his intimate photograph.

“It’s been two years since it happened and he’s basically unemployable. It’s kind of ruined his life unnecessarily," said Kydd’s Toronto-based lawyer Donna Wilson -- who won a precedent setting case last year involving an explicit photo posted online without consent.

Kydd resigned from his teaching position at MSVU in January 2015 after admitting he had a sexual relationship with a student, and that he entered a grade for her for an exam which she hadn't yet written.

“I accept responsibility for the serious error in judgment that I have made,” Kydd said during a news conference at the time.

“I say sorry to my wife, to my two children, Sophie and Nathan … for letting them down,” he said, choking back tears.

Kydd’s claim states that the relationship had started the fall before that.

In December, the woman, who Metro has decided not to name, went to the university saying the relationship wasn’t consensual, and to the RCMP accusing Kydd of sexual assault. Kydd didn’t know this, and they continued dating.  

The claim says the woman then asked Kydd “multiple times to send her a nude photo of his genital area, and he refused.” Eventually, Kydd “relented and took and sent a photo.”

The woman then took the photo to Glen Canning, the father of Rehtaeh Parsons, the claim says, “because he has many Twitter followers, and she wanted the photo to be widely publicized.”

The claim says the woman “misled Canning into believing that she was the victim of sexual assault, and convinced him to post the photo on Twitter, which he did, on January 8, 2015.”

Canning posted the photo, the claim says, and almost immediately deleted it after “backlash from people who were shocked and appalled that he would post a nude photo of a person without their consent.”

The claim says he then reposted a redacted version of the photo, which he later deleted again.

In an email to Metro, Canning said he never posted an unredacted version of the photo.

Wilson said Kydd is not suing Canning because he was manipulated by the woman.

“I don’t think it was right of him to post it even though he was duped, but I spoke with Michael about this from the beginning. We don’t want to sue Glen Canning,” she said. “He lost his daughter, and he made a mistake.”

The claim argues that Twitter, however, could have prevented the publication of the photo “by implementing policies to prevent against such abuse,” but it hasn’t done so even though “it is aware of this problem.”

CTV originally published the redacted photo on its website before taking it down, and it aired a story with the redacted version of the photo in it. That video is still on the CTV website.

“That should never have been published,” Wilson said. “If it was a woman, I don’t think they’d have a redacted thing of her with her breasts and her whatever with a black bar over it and she’s standing there naked… I don’t think they’d do that, but they have his there like that. It’s still there. There’s no respect for his privacy.”

The claim states that after Kydd resigned from MSVU, the university did nothing “to protect Kydd’s reputation or prevent the further publication of his intimate photograph.” It says further details of the university’s involvement will be provided before a trial.

None of these allegations has been proven in court.

The claim states the woman with whom Kydd had a relationship is being sued for defamation, breach of confidence, breach of privacy “including but not limited to the public disclosure of embarrassing or private facts without consent,” breach of copyright, malicious prosecution and aggravated and punitive damages.

Twitter is being sued for breach of privacy “including but not limited to the public disclosure of embarrassing or private facts without consent,” breach of copyright, negligence and aggravated and punitive damages.

Bell Media – CTV’s parent company – is being sued for breach of privacy “including but not limited to the public disclosure of embarrassing or private facts without consent,” breach of copyright and aggravated and punitive damages.

Lastly, Mount Saint Vincent University is being sued for breach of privacy “including but not limited to the public disclosure of embarrassing or private facts without consent” and negligence.

Wilson said the breach of copyright allegation is included “because he took the photo himself so he owns the copyright to it.”

Kydd is seeking $1,000,000 plus costs.

Editor's note: This story was updated to include Glen Canning's side of the story of how the photo was posted originally.

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