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High school volunteer turned politician accused of sexual assault

Revelstoke councillor Cody Younker is accused of sexual assaulting a 15 year-old while acting as a high school volunteer in Langley
Cody Younker
Cody Younker

Revelstoke municipal councillor and BC Liberal Party organizer Cody Younker is facing allegations of sexual assault dating back to 2014, when he was a volunteer at Langley’s Walnut Grove High School.

Surrey resident Jane Doe filed a claim against Younker on Monday in B.C. Supreme Court.

Doe’s claim dates back to when she was a 15 year-old student at Walnut Grove, and four years before Younker was elected in 2018 to Revelstoke city council.

According to the claim, Younker was a volunteer adult chaperone for a social studies class that took hiking excursions to the Harrison Hot Springs area.

Doe disclosed to Younker that she was suffering from mental health concerns. She confided in Younker and provided him with her cellphone number.

Younker first offered so-called “homework hangouts,” but by June, 2014, had “committed acts of sexual assault and battery upon the plaintiff.”

Younker was seen as a person in a position of trust, power and/or authority over the teenage girl, states the claim filed by Vancouver lawyer Sandra Kovacs of KazLaw Injury Lawyers.

Kovacs is also helping the now 22 year-old woman sue the Langley School District.

“At all material times, the School District knew or ought to have known of the risk of harm that Younker posed to students under his supervision, but failed to take any reasonable steps to prevent that risk of harm from materializing.”

Of particular concern, according to the allegations, is that Doe reported the abuse to a friend who then contacted the district.

Walnut Grove school counsellor Darleen Kifiak is named specifically in the lawsuit, having interviewed the plaintiff after the abuse became known. Doe alleges Kifiak was in a conflict of interest and conducted her interview of Doe in an insensitive manner.

In front of Doe’s mother, Kifiak accused Doe of lying and defended Younker’s credibility, the claim states.

Langley’s superintendent at the time was Suzanne Hoffman, who is now Vancouver’s superintendent. Hoffman is not named in the lawsuit.

Furthermore, Doe also went to police with her charges but nothing was done about them.

The now adult woman suffers from a number of mental health disorders and is undergoing treatment. Doe is thus seeking a full suit of damages.

On Monday, she released a statement via Kovacs.

“The memories of the trauma and betrayal I experienced at just 15 have haunted me every day these past seven years, and they continue to haunt me today. I also feel a sincere responsibility to bring these dark events to light in order to achieve a sense of justice for myself and for other young women who otherwise suffer in silence, women who are denied access to justice for the harms they suffer.

“In addition to reporting to the school, I made a complaint to the local police. I put on a brave face and told my story to complete strangers in police uniforms with notepads. I was recorded and questioned, all while being petrified and embarrassed in having to describe the details. But I never received closure from my police complaint, and Mr. Younker was never held responsible criminally.

“It feels impossible to conjure up a sentence or even a paragraph to explain how these events have impacted my life. I still feel an immense amount of pain that even hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars worth of therapy could not resolve.”

Doe said she hopes coming forward will inspire others to do the same.

Younker sits on the BC Liberal board for the Columbia River Revelstoke riding.

Younker has deleted his social media accounts and has been reached for comment via his Revelstoke council email.

None of the allegations against Younker have been proven in court.

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