Case Summary: Yenovkian v Gullian

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has recognized the privacy tort of placing the plaintiff in a false light, awarding both compensatory and punitive damages for same.

Yenovkian v. Gulian, 2019 ONSC 7279, per Kristjanson, J.

Facts + Issues

Mr. Yenovkian and Ms. Gulian were married in October 2000. They had two children; a daughter (A.B.) who was almost 12 years old and a son (C.D.) who was almost 9 years old. The daughter suffered from a neurological disorder and was on the autism spectrum. Yenovkian was found to have been abusive during the marriage. The marriage ended on September 19, 2019 when Yenovkian asked for a divorce.

Yenovkian claimed for a divorce, with family remedies such as access and custody of the children. Gulian cross-claimed for spousal maintenance and damages (compensatory and punitive) for the torts of nuisance, harassment, intentional infliction of mental suffering (nervous shock) and invasion of privacy, seeking $150,000 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages.

Yenovkian was a dual Canadian-U.S. citizen and Gulian was a UK citizen. During their marriage the family lived in various places in the U.S., the UK and Ontario, moving about for Yenovkian's work.

In October 2016 Gulian moved to the UK with her children to live with her parents, advising Yenovkian of their whereabouts. Throughout, she always said it was important that her children should have time with their father and allowed access (in person and via Skype) notwithstanding Yenovkian's conduct. Yenovkian commenced proceedings for return of the children to Ontario. In June 2018, the High Court of Justice Family Division in the U.K. ordered the children returned to Ontario. Gulian and the children returned to Ontario, by which time Yenovkian was living in Los Angeles, California. On September 11, 2018, the Ontario Court of Justice granted Gulian temporary sole custody of the children, permitted her to move back to the U.K. with them and granted Yenovkian both in person and Skype access.

Yenovkian then created two websites and, along with emails, entered upon a campaign of cyberbullying of Gulian, the children and her parents and an Ontario judge who had ruled against him (the “Named Justice”):

19 Mr. Yenovkian has created two main websites which contain embedded links to many videos involving the children. One website is focused on Ms. Gulian, her parents and their family business. The other is a website for a campaign to “unseat” a justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (the “Named Justice”) for her rulings in this case. The court viewed the content on both websites, which contain links to other content created by Mr. Yenovkian. On top of the websites, the court viewed ten videos posted on Mr. Yenovkian's YouTube channel, his Facebook page, his GoFundMe page to “save an abducted autistic girl from captivity”, and two online petitions to remove the Named Justice from the bench.


21 The material posted online by Mr. Yenovkian contains photographs and videos of the children, personal identifying information, and comments about the children. Both main websites include links to YouTube videos of Mr. Yenovkian's court-ordered parenting time with children, both in person and Skype access. Ms. Gulian testified that the children do not know that they are being recorded. Mr. Yenovkian did not tell Ms. Gulian that he intended to post the videos. Ms. Gulian never consented to Mr. Yenovkian's posting of the children's images and videos, which was done contrary to a court order of June 26, 2018. Mr. Yenovkian has refused to remove the videos and images contrary to an order of this court of April 18, 2019.

22 The court spent hours viewing the videos, websites, petitions and internet posts during the trial. A few examples will suffice. In one video, he states that his daughter is “stuttering” because her violent and abusive grandmother “kidnapped” and “drugged” his daughter. He specifically contrasts pictures of his daughter “before” and “after”, with the clear inference that his daughter has declined. He calls his daughter “autistic” in the internet postings, even though Ms. Gulian testifies that they try to avoid labelling. He writes that his “autistic daughter” has been drugged with “opiates and other tranquilizers.” In his posts he states he has documented the “mental degradation” of his child; the “before and after's” which show A.B.'s “broken” mind, that A.B.'s mental health is “incredibly damaged.” Another online video depicts C.D. cowering under a table during a court-ordered access Skype call with Mr. Yenovkian and his mother, Sylvia Yenovkian, with Mr. Yenovkian loudly haranguing his son for not getting out from under the table.

23 Mr. Yenovkian has posted images and videos of Ms. Gulian and her parents with written and oral commentary accusing them of various illegal acts including kidnapping, child abuse, stealing money from the UK government, multiple “felonies” against the UK, U.S. and Canadian governments, assault, drugging the children, slapping the children, death threats, “breaking countless laws,” forging documents, fraud and abusing the children. Both Ms. Gulian and Shahe Gulian denied the allegations, and I accept their evidence. One of his online petitions, entitled “Demand an End to Corruption in Family Law — Investigate the Gulian Family for Kidnapping, Fraud, and Child Abuse” has several online supporters who have signed the petition, many from the UK, one of whom posted that a young man gave her a flyer at the Armenian Church in the UK, others of whom said they knew the family personally.

His emails were abusive, making egregious allegations against Gulian, including allegations of criminal conduct.

Yenovkian further attacked “the administration of justice through his attacks on the Named Justice, one of Ms. Gulian's lawyers, and some of Ms. Gulian's witnesses including those who provided evidence to this court”.

Yenovkian filed numerous unsubstantiated complaints against Gulian and her family to law enforcement and social welfare agencies in the U.S., Canada and the UK, prompting several visits by such entities to their homes.

Yenovkian had also breached several court orders, including Ontario court orders not to intimidate or harass Gulian; not to film or record his children during his parental access visits; to remove all postings about Gulian, her family and the children from the internet and to “stop harassing or speaking ill of Gulian and her family”.

HELD: For the Respondent Gulian; granting divorce and family remedies, plus $150.000 in compensatory damages plus $150,000 in punitive damages.

The Court admitted into evidence the Yenovkian websites and videos, not as proof of the truth of their contents but as evidence of the allegations he had made...

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