BUSINESS

Ron Joyce, Tim Hortons Co-Founder Asks Court To Toss Sex Assault Claim

02/23/2016 12:10 EST | Updated 02/23/2017 05:12 EST
CP

TORONTO — A sexual-assault lawsuit against the billionaire co-founder of Tim Hortons should be thrown out without a hearing on its merits because the matter was long settled and the civil claim against him was filed too late, his lawyers argued Tuesday.

In a Superior Court hearing, lawyers for Ron Joyce painted the plaintiff as someone who was trying to extort an honourable businessman with her $7.5-million suit.

In her statement of claim, the woman alleges Joyce sexually assaulted her at his home in Burlington, Ont., on May 19, 2011. She commenced her action on May 31, 2013, outside the two-year limitation period, Joyce's lawyer Chris Kostopoulos argued.

Kostopoulos produced a $50,000 cheque from Joyce sent to the woman's lawyer in late 2011 on which the businessman wrote her name and "account paid in full.'' That was, Kostopoulos argued, the result of an amicable settlement reached between the parties.

The woman cashed the cheque and, by her own admission, resumed a platonic relationship with Joyce, court heard.

"It is clear from the recording that (she) is out to gather evidence against Mr. Joyce.''

In an affidavit, Joyce maintains he had been suing the woman to repay $150,000 in loans he had made to her to help her pursue a sexual-harassment claim against her former employer. He says he agreed to drop that claim and give her another $50,000 so she would stop pushing "false allegations'' against him.

In April 2013, the plaintiff talked to Joyce about investing in a real estate project. She also went to his home on May 14, 2013, and secretly recorded their conversation, something she admitted to doing frequently. Transcripts show she discussed becoming his full-time assistant and asked why he didn't marry her.

"I'm too old,'' the then-85-year-old Joyce responded.

Days later, she went to his lawyer — with his blessing — ostensibly to talk about the real estate proposal but, in a secretly recorded conversation, she broached the alleged sexual assault from almost two years earlier.

"We say she goes with a scheme:," Kostopoulos said. "It is clear from the recording that (she) is out to gather evidence against Mr. Joyce.''

She then filed notice of the $7.5-million claim against Joyce.

"Mr. Joyce trusted a friend."

Kostopoulos argued the woman clearly knew on May 19, 2011, that she potentially had a claim but neglected to act on it for more than two years.

For her part, the woman — who is in her 40s — maintains there had never been a final settlement of her initial sexual-assault complaint, and any suggestion of such an agreement was a fabrication of the lawyers involved, Kostopoulos told the court.

Kostopoulos acknowledged no one signed a formal release showing the agreement but said the record makes clear that Joyce believed they had a deal and the woman acted as though they did as well.

"Mr. Joyce trusted a friend,'' Kostopoulos said. "Unfortunately that deal has now gone sideways on him.''

The lawyer also noted the woman was unable to provide any recordings from November 2011 — when the matter was settled — despite having numerous other recordings.

The Canadian Press does not name victims of sexual assault unless they consent.