The defamation case was filed by Anthony Bezjak, aka Alex Bez, who previously admitted to nonconsensual sexual contact in a Facebook video
For Immediate Release
February 23, 2022
- Lawsuit: Court_File_No.N°_du_dossier_du_greffe.pdf
- Statement of Defence: The Save Movement Statement of Defence.pdf
- Case: Anthony Alexander Bezjak a.k.a. Alex Bezjak and Amazing Vegan Outreach (Plaintiffs) -and- The Save Movement o/a Animal Save Movement and Anita Krajnc (Defendants)
- Court File Number: CV-2-00676093-0000
TORONTO—Animal Save Movement—a global network of activists working to end the use and exploitation of animals in the food system and combating the climate emergency with the Plant Based Treaty—is fighting back against a $1.2 million defamation suit filed by Anthony Bezjak of Amazing Vegan Outreach.
In late 2019, Animal Save Movement received a complaint from an organizer, alleging that she had a non-consensual sexual encounter with Alex Bezjak, a fellow animal activist, while at an Airbnb in London, UK, that was paid for by Animal Save Movement. Animal Save Movement immediately took action to resolve the issue, and protect its organizers, volunteers, and the animal protection community more broadly. These actions included investigating the allegations, banning Mr. Bezjak from Animal Save Movement events, and communicating publicly about these steps.
- A 25 minute video, posted May 6, 2020 entitled Why we MUST talk about CONSENT
- A new Travel and Housing policy
- Strengthened Anti discrimination and Harassment policies - Anti-discrimination & Anti-harassment Policy
- Animal Save Movement organizers and chapters are required to read and agree to a Memorandum of Understanding & Code of Conduct, Social Media Policy, Housing and Travel Policy, Diversity and Inclusion Guidelines, and Anti-discrimination & Anti-harassment Policy
On February 1, 2022, Mr. Bezjak filed suit in Ontario Superior Court against the Animal Save Movement, alleging defamation. The fact of this lawsuit exposes the pitfalls that groups are exposed to while trying to make social justice movements a safer place for members.
In his own words, in a video posted on Facebook on April 20, 2020, Mr. Bezjak says he presumed consent based on past activity. Under both Canadian and British law, consent cannot be presumed based on prior sexual activity. There must be positive affirmation for there to be consent. Animal Save Movement’s statement of defence in the case reads:
Under Canadian law, prior sexual activity does not support an inference or presumption of consent, nor can consent be implied by a relationship. In fact, in the sexual assault context, evidence of prior sexual activity is presumptively inadmissible to prove consent. Rather, consent must be present at the time of the sexual activity in question. Only yes means yes. What is required is nothing less than positive affirmation.
Animal Save Movement aims to make sure everyone in the animal rights movement feels safe and is supported. The behaviour admitted to by Mr. Bezjak can undermine our objective of making sure that activists can feel safe. Any conduct undermining that objective is concerning to us. Mr. Bezjak had been the subject of previous allegations of inappropriate conduct in 2018, and was already not welcome at our events. We are not the only organization that has come to this same conclusion. Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) said Mr. Bezjak was not welcome at their events, including the Animal Liberation Conference, in 2018.
A group trying to do right by women and getting sued.
Anita Krajnc, ED of Animal Save Movement, says, “We are disappointed that Mr. Bezjak has chosen to launch a defamation lawsuit, pitting animal activists against each other. We will defend ourselves vigorously. We have an obligation to protect the safety and personal security of activists in our animal rights community.”
Animal Save Movement seeks to make progress in the animal protection movement by educating participants about consent. We are making our movement more effective by fostering a culture of mutual respect between people, where sexually inappropriate behaviour is not tolerated. This is essential to protecting the legal rights of movement participants, and to making our social justice movement as effective as possible. In the process of helping animals, we must make sure we are respecting each other.
- Anita Krajnc, Executive Director, Animal Save Movement, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nicola Harris, Communications Director, Animal Save Movement, email@example.com
- Arden Beddoes, Legal Counsel: (604) 248-4744, firstname.lastname@example.org