Police have arrested a Winnipeg man they say posted comments online that expressed contempt toward women and threatened to kill someone.
Justin Peter Bodnarchuk, 39, was arrested on Monday following numerous reports of threatening social media posts, the Winnipeg Police Service said in a Tuesday news release.
The posts expressed contempt toward women, feminists and the Winnipeg police, the release said.
One post also included a threat to kill a specific person, police said.
Bodnarchuk was charged with three counts of uttering threats to kill or cause bodily harm.
He was detained in custody.
A LinkedIn account associated with Bodnarchuk says he is a kinesiologist and personal trainer at Aspect Fitness in Winnipeg. He appears in multiple videos on the Aspect Fitness Instagram account promoting himself and his fitness tips.
‘Definitely crossed a threshold’
Winnipeg police Const. Dani McKinnon would not confirm whether Bodnarchuk has previously been charged or convicted for other offences.
She also would not provide any specifics about what was said in the posts in question.
McKinnon did say the comments allegedly made by Bodnarchuk were posted on a popular social media platform, and that there were dozens of reports filed with the police about them.
Police are often called about potential threats, said McKinnon. Investigators consider whether threats are ambiguous or veiled, versus those with “real credibility” that may warrant an arrest, she said.
That can come down to wording.
“Words like ‘kill’ … ‘to kill’ or ways of harming a person, or other words that generally would alarm or put fear in a reasonable person, that is valued in the investigation,” said McKinnon.
“The language that was used in these posts definitely crossed a threshold of just being a veiled — maybe considered inappropriate — comment, and it was considered a Criminal Code offence.”
She encourages people who come across threatening comments online, or those with inappropriate images or hateful language targeting an individual or group, to report them through the social media platform, and consider contacting local law enforcement.
Court records show Bodnarchuk was ordered to stay away from a former domestic partner in August 2019 after she told court officials he had been physically violent toward her on multiple occasions,
A judicial justice of the peace ordered him to stay at least 200 metres away from the woman and her children, and to not have any contact with them. The order is valid until August 2022.
For months, the Aspect Fitness Instagram account that appears to be run by Bodnarchuk has been posting misogynist comments and insulting individuals who speak up against its posts.
Men urged to speak out
Kelly Gorkoff, an associate professor at the University of Winnipeg whose research focuses on gender-based violence, says she thinks some of the comments on the account could be considered hate speech against women, in particular to feminists.
“It fits the idea of speaking against a designated group of individuals,” Gorkoff said.
Rebecca Sullivan, a professor in the gender and sexuality studies program at the University of Calgary, said in order for this behaviour to stop, people, especially men, need to speak out against it.
“I think a real problem in our society is, quite frankly, a lot of men think that there is a tolerable level of harassment and abuse that can be directed by the men in their world against women before they will say something,” Sullivan said.
“And that tolerance level goes up and up and up every time it’s crossed.”