Woman sues Victoria real estate agents and company over alleged sexual assault

A woman who made detailed allegations of sexual assault on the Vancouver Island Instagram account @survivorstoriesproject is suing two real estate agents and the real estate company they worked for.

The plaintiff, identified as J.K., launched her civil suit Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. She is suing Bowman Rutledge, Andy Rogers and Island Group Services Inc., doing business as Engel & ­Volkers Vancouver Island, for injuries, loss and damage ­allegedly suffered as a result of a sexual assault in August 2018.

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When the allegations of sexual assault against Rutledge and Rogers surfaced in 2021, they were working for a different brokerage, The Agency, a luxury real estate and lifestyle company. Their employment was immediately terminated by The Agency. The Real Estate Council of B.C. has revoked their licences.

On social media, both men have firmly denied the allegations. As yet, no statement of defence has been filed.

“We have just become aware that our firm has been named in a civil lawsuit related to disturbing allegations involving two former independent contractors. We will act on the advice of legal counsel and address these concerns through the court system once we receive more information,” Scott Piercy, owner of Engel & Volkers Vancouver Island said in a statement Saturday.

“We remain a dedicated, ­professional and ethical team of licensed advisors and these ­allegations do not represent who we are. Any form of sexual ­misconduct is wholly unacceptable and will not be tolerated within our industry or our community.”

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In her notice of civil claim, J.K. alleges that she was sexually assaulted by Rutledge and Rogers, who were her real estate agents, at the Humboldt Street office of Engel & Volkers Vancouver Island.

J.K. alleges that in December 2017, she hired Rutledge and Rogers to sell her home. It sold in February 2018 and changed possession in May 2018. In August, J.K. agreed to meet ­Rutledge at a local bar to celebrate. When she arrived, Rogers was also there. They asked her to come with them to the office before going to the bar for a drink so they could scan or print a document.

J.K. alleges that they used their power as her realtors to “lure” her to the office and abused their position of power, authority and trust to take advantage of her trust in them.

J.K. alleges she was given a glass of wine with drugs in it. As soon as she drank it, she felt unwell and disoriented. Shortly after, she was sexually assaulted by both men, the claim alleges.

Engel & Volkers either knew or should have known that Rutledge and Rogers were at risk of sexually assaulting women and did not take any actions to monitor or supervise their behaviour or investigate their conduct, the claim alleges. The company continued to let them have access to female clients.

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“As a direct result of Engel’s and Island’s acts and omissions, the plaintiff was subject to the sexual assault by Rogers and Rutledge,” the claim alleges.

The injuries continue to cause J.K. pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of physical, mental and emotional health and loss of earning capacity, it says.

The real estate agents ought to have known that their actions would traumatize a normal person and would damage her, J.K. alleges.

The real estate company benefited from Rutledge and Rogers’ social networking and dysfunctional behaviour because it increased their public presence and profile in the community and their ability to secure real estate listings, says the claim.

J.K. also alleges that Engel & Volkers fostered an environment that encouraged reckless and harmful behaviour toward women. The company encouraged intimate and social relationships between clients and agents. It allowed Rogers and Rutledge to entertain women clients at the office after hours. It allowed them to have sex with clients at the office and allowed them to use the office for social activities, even those involving illegal behaviour, the claim alleges.

Engel & Volkers failed to properly vet and screen the two men, prior to hiring them. The company failed to address the drug and alcohol use and high-risk behaviour, the claim alleges.

The defendants must respond to the allegations within 35 days.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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