Lawyer facing allegations of professional misconduct after stating that “a 14 or 15-year-old girl is not a child, but a ‘sexually mature young woman’”

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Gary McCallum, a lawyer based in Toronto, stated that a 14 or 15-year-old girl is not a child, but a “sexually mature young woman” in court records in 2018. The statement was made in an affidavit while he was representing Kenora-Rainy River Districts Child and Family Services

The lawsuit was brought by a woman alleging she was sexually abused as a child by her foster father in the 1980s while under the care of the children’s aid society’s predecessor organization. McCallum made the statement in a July 2018 affidavit responding to an affidavit from the plaintiff’s lawyer, Simona Jellinek.

Gallant, Jacques. “Toronto lawyer faces discipline charge for arguing 14-year-old girl is a ‘sexually mature young woman,’ not a child” Toronto Star, January 13, 2023

McCallum’s statement was brought to light by Jacques Gallant of the Toronto Star on March 24, 2019. The comments were met with disgust from the public and provincial government, and he was fired by the children’s aid society the next day. The Law Society Tribunal has since brought forward an allegation of professional misconduct against McCallum, alleging that he “failed to act honourably and with integrity”. 

How is this an example of professional misconduct?

Since McCallum’s statement was made while he was representing the children’s aid society, an organization devoted to protecting and caring for children, his views were thought to have reflected their views. If the public felt his statement reflected that of his client, Kenora-Rainy River Districts Child and Family Services may have received backlash as a result. 

When a lawyer’s statement poorly reflects the views of their client, it could pose significant consequences for the client. They could see their public image negatively impacted and possibly cause them to receive an outcome that is less favorable than they would have otherwise. 

McCallum could face disciplinary action in the form of fines and a suspension.

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