Councillor resigns after suing daughter for going public about alleged sex abuse

Councillor resigns over sex abuse lawsuit

LIONS BAY, B.C. — A municipal politician in British Columbia has stepped down after it became public that she was suing her daughter for talking publicly about allegations her stepfather sexually abused her as a child.

Mayor Karl Buhr of Lions Bay confirmed in a statement posted on the village website on Thursday that he had accepted Eileen Wilke’s resignation.

Wilke and her husband Ronald are suing the former councillor’s daughter, Sherri Thomson, over allegations she broke the terms of a settlement agreement related to a lawsuit that Thomson launched against the pair in 1994.

Thomson’s lawyer declined comment but said in an email that her client consents to her name being used in the media.

A notice of civil claim filed by Ronald and Eileen Wilke last November says they agreed to a settlement in 1996, two years after Thomson filed a lawsuit against the couple in Ontario.

The document says Thomson alleged that she suffered years of sexual, physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Ronald Wilke and that Eileen Wilke had failed to protect her from abuse.

The parties consented to the dismissal of the court action and Ronald Wilke agreed to pay Thomson $33,000 if she accepted not to discuss or disclose the allegations with anyone other than family members, close friends, her partners or therapists, the lawsuit says.

In a response filed in court last week, Thomson disputes that she agreed not to disclose the allegations. 

The minutes of the settlement expressly provided that the covenant is waived in the event that Thomson is required by law to provide the information, the document says.

“This conduct has been admitted by the plaintiff Ronald Wilke during examination for discovery,” Thomson wrote in her response to civil claim, filed last week in B.C. Supreme Court.

None of the allegations in the documents filed by both sides in the dispute have been proven.

The statement of claim says Thomson sent a letter with transcripts referencing the allegations to Elections B.C., the mayor of Lions Bay and a local radio station. Various community groups also received copies of the transcripts, including Lions Bay Emergency Social Services, Lions Bay Neighbourhood Block Watch and Lions Bay Community School, it says.

In her response, Thomson confirms she sent the transcripts to the organizations and individuals outlined in the statement of claim.

Thomson says in her response that she did not violate the settlement agreement, and even if she did, the non-disclosure condition “is void and unenforceable as against the defendant on the ground of public policy, in that it is on its face and attempt to stifle, or in practice would have the substantive effect of stifling, the investigation and/or prosecution of serious criminal offences.”

The Wilkes declined comment through their lawyer, John Whyte.

“They’ve asked me to make any comments that are required, but very few comments, I think, are going to be required in a case like this, which as I said earlier really needs to be resolved through the court process rather than litigation through the media,” he said. 

Municipal lawyers are confident that neither the village, its officers nor elected officials did anything wrong, Buhr wrote in his statement.

“The deplorable vitriol spewed out by social-media trolls that brought this resignation about — some directed at me and council, often with identical misspellings, most of it irrational, and all of it only half informed — angers and disappoints me,” he said.

“We have lost more than a councillor. A byelection will be held in due course.”

Wilke won a byelection in November. Campaign material says she moved to the coastal community in 2002.

— By Geordon Omand in Vancouver

The Canadian Press

Canadian Press