By Gerald V. Paul
Greg Frankson, aka Ritallin, who has impressed with his CBC Radio and stage presentations, is suing two peers for more than $150,000 each, alleging libel and defamation following allegations of sexual harassment and assault that saw him banned from spoken-word events in three cities across Canada.
The former school teacher’s ban from live poetry events was over unspecified allegations of sexual harassment and assault contained in a grievance filed with Ottawa’s Capital Poetry Collective.
On Jan. 23 separate statements of claim were issued by Ritallin’s lawyers to Rusty Priske and Ruthanne Edward, both poets and prominent members of the collective and SpoCan.
According to the statements of claim, Edward initiated the ban by bringing a grievance before the collective on behalf of 21 anonymous women.
That grievance, the statement of claim says, “caused false allegations of sexual assault to be rebroadcast or republished by various media outlets, poetry associations and on social media.”
Priske and Edward’s lawyer said in a statement his clients intend to defend the matter and have no further comment. No statement of defense has been filed. None of the allegations in the claim have been tested in court.
From 2012 to 2014, Ritallin, Canadian born of Caribbean heritage, was a house poet and spoken-word artist working mainly in Toronto. He is a prominent figure in the local poetry community, appearing at and organizing regular slam poetry competitions.
In 2007 he founded Cytopoetics, a business that provides “creative services” for organizations and heads several regular poetry events in the city.
The popular Ritallin, host of the 2014 Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton kick-off celebration for Black History Month, has been engaged in his passion since 2003, sharing accessible, lyrically appealing, socially conscious poetry for audiences young and old.
He has travelled across Canada and internationally in pursuit of his vision to inspire others to positively change the world.
He was the first African Canadian to serve as president of Canada’s oldest undergraduate student government, the Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University (1996-97).