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B.C. drag queens' sexual assault, defamation case ends without trial

"I just want this to be over," said a Facebook post.
B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

One Vancouver drag queen’s B.C. Supreme Court defamation case against another drag performer who claimed sexual assault has ended by consent.

A consent dismissal order was filed with the court Oct. 3, 2023.

“The within proceedings are hereby dismissed against the defendant, James Goranko a.k.a. Alma B Itches, without costs to any party,” said the order signed by Goranko’s lawyer Neil Chantler and Jeffery Wittman, lawyer for Carl McDonald, whose drag name is Carlotta Gurl.

“Such dismissal will be for all intents and purposes of the same force and effect as if this order had been pronounced at the trial of this action on its merits,” the order said.

On Dec. 28, Goranko posted on Facebook that they just wanted the situation to be over.

“I have been trying my hardest to move on with my life after the past couple of years of turmoil,” they wrote on the Alma B Itches Facebook page.

“In September, myself and another community member agreed to abandon our claims against each other in court and to my knowledge we have done that.”

The pair met about 10 years ago, initial court documents said.

Goranko alleged McDonald sexually assaulted them on three occasions between January and June 2014. There were multiple posts made on social media to that effect, the court heard.

McDonald denied the assaults occurred and filed a defamation suit, the subject of Justice Karen Douglas’ Feb. 15, 2023 decision, allowing the defamation action to proceed.

Goranko applied for the defamation action to be dismissed, claiming McDonald brought the case to stifle their expression on matters of public interest, specifically their own experience as a victim of sexual assault and the prevalence of sexual assault in the drag show entertainment industry.

Goranko claimed valid defences to the defamation claim against them, including justification, fair comment, and responsible communication.

Goranko suggested that removing obstacles to the reporting of sexual assault by protecting their expression far outweighs the public interest in permitting the defamation case to proceed.

McDonald, however, brought a cross application to strike references in evidence to an apology they made to Goranko on the basis that it is inadmissible evidence.