Mike Ward Ordered to Pay $42,000 for Jokes About Jeremy Gabriel, Teen With Treacher Collins Syndrome
Mike Ward, a Canadian comedian, has been ordered to pay $42,000 to Jeremy Gabriel, a teenager with Treacher Collins syndrome, after making a joke about him during a comedy special in 2010.
Quebec’s Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Ward must pay Gabriel $25,000 in moral damages and $10,000 in punitive damage. The remaining $7,000 must be paid to Gabriel’s mother, Sylvie for both moral and punitive damages, CBC News reported.
In 2006, Gabriel, then 12, was flown from Quebec to Rome to sing for the Pope. In 2010, Ward “joked” about Gabriel’s trip and newfound celebrity, saying he thought Gabriel had been asked to sing for the pope because the young boy was dying and had been granted the visit by the Make-A-Wish Foundation (Treacher Collins syndrome is not a fatal condition; however, it does cause a range of noticeable facial differences.) Ward’s routine continued, poking fun at Gabriel’s appearance and life expectancy. The Mighty will not republish his bit.
Gabriel pressed charges in 2012, arguing Ward’s jokes were too harsh and hurt his career. He also testified that he was bullied at school and had attempted suicide. Even after the lawsuit was initiated, Ward continued to make jokes about Gabriel, as well as the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal.
Ward took to Facebook Wednesday night commenting that he plans on appealing the decision. “Even Rocky lost the first one. We’re gonna appeal,” he wrote.
“It’s a big relief, and at the same time I’m surprised,” Gabriel told CBC of the decision. “I was happy with the decision yesterday.”
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