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Former prof referred to colleague as a “house negro” on his blog

On June 5, a court ruled that former University of Ottawa professor Denis Rancourt had committed libel against another professor.

U of O law professor Joanne St. Lewis won $350,000 in damages from Rancourt, who referred to her as a “house negro” on his 2011 blog. The ruling was in regards to two libellous references.

“I see it as a total victory,” said Richard Dearden, St. Lewis’s lawyer, to the Ottawa Citizen, “and a vindication of professor St. Lewis’s reputation.”

Rancourt represented himself and was present for the ruling.

The court filed an injunction prohibiting Rancourt from posting about St. Lewis in the future and forcing him to remove current defamatory posts, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

Rancourt attempted to derail the lawsuit in March of 2013 by appealing to the Superior Court. He said at the time that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the university paid St. Lewis’ legal fees, which he viewed as an abuse of process.

Superior Court Judge Robert Smith said the university had a legitimate reason for assisting St. Lewis and explained that there was no evidence to show that the university agreed to fund the lawsuit based on any improper motives.

The university dismissed Rancourt in 2009 for giving an A+ to all 23 students in his advanced physics course in 2008. The university’s decision to fire him was upheld by an arbitrator on Jan. 27 of this year.

With files from Adam Feibel and KayCie Gravelle