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British Columbia Man sues government, police after 27 years of wrongful imprisonment

Ivan Henry talks with the media after he was acquitted of eight counts of rape from his a conviction in 1983 which sent him to prison for 27 years.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

A Vancouver man who spent 27 years in prison for a series of sexual assaults he did not commit is seeking compensation through the province's courts.

Lawyers for Ivan Henry are asking for unspecified damages from the provincial and federal attorneys-general, the City of Vancouver and three members of the Vancouver police department.

They filed their notice of civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court Wednesday.

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"As a result of the wrongful acts and omissions of the defendants … the plaintiff was charged, detained in custody, wrongfully convicted and imprisoned, and his wrongful convictions were not set aside until 2010," the court documents state. "He has consequently suffered, is suffering, and will continue to suffer, loss and damage."

None of the parties named in the suit has yet filed a statement of defence.

According to court documents, Mr. Henry says he lost his liberty, reputation and privacy, and suffered humiliation, disgrace and pain, following his wrongful conviction for eight sexual assaults in March 1983 and his subsequent designation as a dangerous offender. He says he also lost the enjoyment of life, everyday experiences, income, as well as benefits and a pension. Mr. Henry says his daughters Tanya Olivares and Kari Rietze suffered, too, and he is seeking compensation for them.

"As a result of his wrongful conviction and incarceration they were effectively deprived of a father and of the benefits of a father's love, guidance and affection," the documents say.

Mr. Henry maintained his innocence throughout his nearly three-decades-long ordeal.

In October 2010, justices on B.C.'s Court of Appeal unanimously acquitted Mr. Henry of 10 sexual offences against eight complainants. They heard Crown lawyers and the judge made several mistakes during the 1983 trial. The Crown conceded that evidence wasn't disclosed to Mr. Henry as it should have been and if he was tried again, a jury wouldn't convict him. The court also heard that there was evidence that Mr. Henry was suffering from a mental disorder during the trial at which he represented himself. The justices also heard Mr. Henry was held in a choke hold while victims picked him out of a police lineup.

Mr. Henry currently lives in Vancouver and is unemployed.

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