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Victoria real estate agents accused of sexual assault suing former employer for defamation

Andrew Rogers and Bowman Rutledge fired after allegations arose online in March 2021
Two former The Agency real estate agents are suing the company for defamation and breach of contract. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

Two men being sued for alleged drugging and sexual assault are now in turn suing their former employer for firing them over the allegations.

Victoria real estate agents Andrew Rogers and Bowman Rutledge filed a lawsuit against Norstar Alliance Real Estate Services, doing business as The Agency, on Feb. 10. The Agency terminated the men in March 2021 after anonymous reports of sexual assault arose against them on a social media page for survivors, called Survivor Stories Project.

Rogers and Rutledge claim that by doing so The Agency broke the conditions of their contract and defamed them.

The sexual assault allegations date back to 2018 when the men were working at Engel and Volkers Vancouver Island, but surfaced while they were employed as independent contractors with The Agency.

Rogers and Rutledge say shortly after the posts about them appeared online, the managing broker of The Agency reached out to them and said the company would be letting the legal system determine whether the allegations were true, but would be suspending their contracts in the meantime.

But less than an hour later, The Agency made an Instagram post saying it had terminated its relationship with them, the men claim.

“We stand in full support of women who have endured sexual abuse and we encourage anyone with information to please come forward,” the March 25, 2021 post read.

READ ALSO: Two Victoria real estate agents fired following sexual assault allegations

Rogers and Rutledge say this was the only notice they were given of their firing, and that they’ve received no explanation or basis since.

By terminating them publicly and asking anyone with information to come forward, The Agency also defamed the men, the lawsuit claims. Rogers and Rutledge say the firing post was “malicious or reckless in its intent,” and that The Agency should have known it would further ostracize them at a time when the sexual assault allegations were receiving significant attention on social media and in the news.

Rogers and Rutledge deny the allegations of sexual assault. They say they have been branded as sexual predators in the community and continue to suffer damage to their personal and professional reputations.

The men are suing The Agency for damages related to loss of work, stress and mental anguish, emotional distress, invasion of privacy, loss of enjoyment of life, threats of physical harm, and reputational damage. The Agency has not responded to the claim with a filing of defence as of publication of this story.

Rogers and Rutledge are also in the midst of being sued themselves by a former client – referred to as J.K. to protect her identity – who says the men drugged and sexually assaulted her in their office while they were working at Engel and Volkers Vancouver Island in the summer of 2018.

None of the allegations by any of the parties have been proven in court.

READ ALSO: Police missteps leave Greater Victoria sexual assault survivor without justice

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media after starting as a community reporter in Greater Victoria.
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