The University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada indicates in a statement that it fired the head of the campus sexual assault center who had signed onto an open letter denying Hamas-led terrorists raped women during their devastating October 7 onslaught in southern Israel.
Samantha Pearson signed the letter, titled “Stand with Palestine: Call on Political Leaders to End Their Complicity in Genocide,” which slammed center-left New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh for repeating “the unverified accusation that Palestinians were guilty of sexual violence,” among other critiques of the lawmaker on the issue.
The letter was authored by Susan Kim, a city councilor in Victoria, and Sarah Jama, a member of Ontario’s provincial parliament who was booted from the NDP over remarks only three days after the October 7 massacre calling Israel an “apartheid” state while ignoring Hamas’s atrocities.
In a letter posted to X, the University of Alberta says “the recent improper and unauthorized use of the name of the [university]’s Sexual Assault Centre in endorsing an open letter has raised understandable concerns from members of our community and the public.”
“Effective immediately, the director of the centre is no longer employed by the university, the letter reads. A new interim director was appointed to head the campus sexual assault center, the university says.
“I want to be clear that the former employee’s personal views and opinions do not in any way represent those of the University of Alberta,” writes university president Bill Flanagan. “The University of Alberta stands firmly and unequivocally against discrimination and hatred on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, and other protected categories. We recognize the historical and ongoing harms of antisemitism and commit to doing all we can as a university to advance a world free of prejudice and discrimination.”
Flanagan says the event has been “profoundly hurtful and may have compromised the trust of individuals in our community” and also negatively impacted the critical nature of the assault center’s work.
“On behalf of the university, I apologize for the hurt and distress this issue has caused members of our community and beyond,” he says.
Israeli police have begun building several sexual assault cases against terrorists, citing eyewitnesses, video evidence, testimony from terrorists and photographs of victims’ bodies that all point toward such offenses.
The police confirmed a Times of Israel investigation that found physical evidence of sexual assault was broadly not collected from October 7 victims, amid the still ongoing need to identify bodies and complications posed by an active warzone.