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Court upholds YMCA expulsion

Man loses gym membership over showering habits

The Ontario Superior Court Of Justice has ruled against a Toronto man whose YMCA membership was revoked after he was accused of masturbating and walking around naked in the men’s change room “for no apparent purpose.”

“Provided [the YMCA] has rules in place, and followed those rules, provided the rules are transparent and treat all of its members equally fairly, this court has no right to interfere in how the organization carried out its decision to expel,” wrote Justice John R Belleghem in an April decision.

According to the judgment, Roman Sahaydakivski joined the Mississauga YMCA in 1998. In the spring of 2005, Anthony Ierulli, the facility’s manager of health, fitness and relocation, received a complaint about Sahaydakivski’s behaviour in the men’s shower area. Sahaydakivski was alleged to have bent over to aim water at his anus, used his hands so that it appeared he was entering himself, brought Kleenex into the toilet area, flushed the toilet 20 to 25 times, walked around the area naked and set up an area with cleaning supplies, “restricting the area in which people can walk around.”

Ierulli and the Y’s vice president met with Sahaydakivski, who acknowledged that “some of his behaviour, particularly his showering habits, may make some members feel uncomfortable.” He agreed to use a private shower stall.

Two weeks later a staff member complained that he had heard Sahaydakivski masturbating in the toilet stall in the men’s change area. “They informed the applicant that they were not taking the position that he had ‘in fact’ been masturbating, but that the YMCA ‘was very concerned that his behaviour in the men’s change room was making others feel uncomfortable.'” Sahaydakivski was warned again.

There was another complaint about him masturbating in June. Sahaydakivski was sent a letter that “this behaviour is unacceptable in a public area where children may be present and will not be tolerated.” His membership was revoked.

Sahaydakivski’s lawyers argued that he had been presumed guilty and not been given the opportunity to have his case heard. Belleghem ruled that the Y had acted in good faith.

“Whether or not those complaints were legitimately founded will never be known. However, the organization simply does not have a positive duty to rule out with any degree of precision that what occurred was anything more than misunderstanding or series of misunderstandings rather than something more sinister. The organization simply cannot afford, given the nature and extent of its activities, to run the risk of putting any single individual’s contractual interest in maintaining membership, above the welfare of the organization, viewed as a whole.”

The case was dismissed with costs.