Women accuse Vancouver tattoo artist of sexual assault and abuse

Mar 28 2022, 7:04 pm

Former clients and intimate partners of tattoo artist Kyle Harding are sharing stories of alleged sexual misconduct and assault hoping to warn other women looking to get tattooed in Vancouver.

Daily Hive spoke to a woman who said she was sexually assaulted during an appointment, a former girlfriend who said she was physically abused, and a woman who met him through a dating app who said he tried to convince her to drink from a large bottle of a date rape drug.

“What is concerning about the allegations against Kyle Ghostkeeper are the amount. It’s clear he’s accessed women in different ways such as private and social settings but also through his occupation as a tattoo artist,” frontline worker Sonam Khangura with Vancouver Rape Relief told Daily Hive.

She confirmed some of his alleged victims contacted the centre’s crisis line, but couldn’t give details to protect their privacy.

Other women are sharing allegations anonymously through the Instagram page Surviving Kyle. The people behind the page did not respond to Daily Hive’s request for comment.


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The Vancouver Police Department wouldn’t confirm whether it’s looking into the allegations.

“It would be inappropriate to say anything that could identify a person who has not been charged with a criminal offence,” Sgt. Steve Addison said. “However, we invite anyone who has experienced sexual violence to contact police.”

Harding goes by Kyle Ghostkeeper professionally, and currently works out of Demigods tattoo studio in Gastown. His projects have a $1,000 minimum, according to the studio’s website. His client roster includes NHL player Nic Petan.

Harding has worked at multiple tattoo shops in both Toronto and Vancouver. His former employers include Unity Tattoo Vancouver, Granville Street Tattoo, Happy Buddha Tattoo in New Westminster, Ink and Honey in Port Coquitlam, Scarecrow Ink in Chilliwack, and Forever Young Ink in Toronto.

Scarecrow Ink confirmed he was let go in 2015 after complaints from clients that he was hitting on them.

Sexual assault during tattoo appointment

A Vancouver woman whose identity Daily Hive agreed to keep anonymous said she was sexually assaulted during a tattoo appointment with Harding in February 2016. She was 20 years old.

She tried to cancel the day before the appointment, but Harding allegedly sent her a long message asking how he was going to pay his bills if she didn’t commit. The woman had already gotten one tattoo from Harding, but her boyfriend at the time had accompanied her to the first appointment.

The second tattoo at his studio in Gastown ended in sexual assault, she says.

“You just kind of freeze in that situation,” she said. “I was so ashamed. I felt like I had just cheated on my partner. Your mind just can’t, like, think straight in that situation.”

She called a friend who took her to the police station to file a report. She said Harding was arrested and taken to jail, but he was never charged because of lack of evidence. He was released shortly after.

“I’m just not sure how we’re supposed to provide evidence in that situation,” she said. “At the end of the day he gets to be free and there’s no repercussions for what he’s done.”

Vancouver police confirmed they received the woman’s sexual assault report and arrested a 29-year-old man on February 14, 2016 in connection with it. He was released after agreeing to attend court at a later date.

The week of the assault, the woman’s car was broken into and all her belongings inside were dumped on her front doorstep. She said Harding knew where she lived because they were in the same housing complex.

“It really freaked me out,” she said. “I was pretty fearful after that.”

Harding convicted of assault over abuse of ex-girlfriend

Nicole Prager met Harding through a mutual friend at a club in Toronto. They developed a romantic relationship within months, but Prager alleges Harding was emotionally and physically abusive throughout it.

They dated from March 2017 until May 2018, during which Prager said Harding’s beatings sent her to the hospital multiple times.

Although Harding never sexually assaulted her, Prager said he coerced her into using GHB several times. Sometimes called G for short, the drug is used recreationally in small amounts but larger doses can knock someone unconscious — hence its use as a date rape drug.

On the night Prager and Harding broke up, he allegedly attacked her and slammed her to the ground. The assault left her with a broken nose and a concussion.

“I just knew if I continued being with him, I didn’t know if I would survive,” she said.
“It just seemed that it was getting worse and worse.”

The tattoo artist was sentenced for one count of assault and two counts of assault causing bodily harm for attacks between 2017 and 2019, according to his 2021 probation order. Harding didn’t serve prison time, but must obey several conditions for 24 months and pay a fine.

The conditions included attending domestic violence rehabilitative programs, not possessing weapons, and not communicating with Prager and remaining 200 metres away from her at all times.

After the breakup and subsequent probation order, Prager said Harding moved back to Vancouver.

Dating apps and GHB

kyle ghostkeeper

Recent photos that Harding may use on dating apps (Submitted)

Daily Hive spoke to a third woman who met Harding on a dating app in late 2021. She requested to keep her identity anonymous, but told Daily Hive Harding tried to convince her to drink GHB from a large bottle he kept at his apartment.

The woman alleges Harding was “pushy” about it, even suggesting she watch a YouTube video about the drug.

“He was like, you can watch me take it and see that it’s not dangerous,” she said.

She pressed Harding about what the clear liquid tasted like and he replied soapy and salty. That’s when she made the connection that it was a date rape drug.

“That’s really smart of him to make it feel like I’m the one who wants to take it so he can’t blame me,” the woman said. “I don’t know why he’s doing that at this point … He knows I’m interested in him … What’s the point of drugging me?”

She reported what happened to Vancouver police, but said one of the officers victim-blamed her about what happened — apparently suggesting she should be more careful about who she talks to.

Vancouver police said the investigation into her complaint is no longer active.

Harding silent on accusations

Harding’s Demigods website was taken down over the course of reporting this story, but Daily Hive requested comment via Instagram. Harding has not replied.

Daily Hive found no business licence for Demigods registered with the City of Vancouver and no health inspection records on Vancouver Coastal Health’s website.

According to Khangura, the frontline sexual assault worker, it’s all too common for men to use their profession to meet and assault women.

“We often hear about professionals who misuse their power when in private,” she said.
“Women in these private appointments are in a vulnerable position. Through our crisis lines we hear about men praying on women from whatever profession they have including dance teachers, sport coaches, gym trainers, barmen, doctors, lawyers, taxi drivers and police officers.”


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She added that going to the police isn’t always an effective route to justice for sexual assault victims, which prompts initiative such as the Surviving Kyle Instagram page.

“Women are outing men on social media as an act of solidarity,” Khangura said. “They want
to warn, protect and support other women. It is also an indication of the painful truth that we can not trust the criminal justice system to hold abusive men accountable.”

The page also encourages women getting tattooed to bring a friend to their appointment, turn their phone location on and tell a trusted about where they’re going, and to not accept food or drink from the artist.

Prager said she’s speaking out so no woman walks into a tattoo appointment with Harding unaware of the allegations against him.

“Someone who’s getting tattooed by him,  they’re getting permanently marked by an abuser,” Prager said. “This is without their consent, because they do not have this knowledge going into their booking.”

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