Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Independent Probe Finds No Evidence of Sexual Harassment at Pickton Inquiry

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Independent Probe Finds No Evidence of Sexual Harassment at Pickton Inquiry

Article excerpt

No evidence of harassment at Pickton inquiry

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VANCOUVER - An investigation into claims of sexual harassment within the offices of the Robert Pickton inquiry found no evidence to corroborate what remain anonymous allegations published in the media, says a report by the lawyer who conducted the probe.

The National Post newspaper published a story in April that relied on anonymous sources who alleged they were sexually harassed while working at the commission.

The article prompted commissioner Wally Oppal to appoint an independent lawyer, Delayne Sartison, to look into the allegations. In the meantime, the commission's executive director, John Boddie, took a paid leave of absence to ensure the investigation's independence.

Sartison interviewed current and former staff members but found no evidence of sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination, according to her report, released by the commission on Wednesday.

"Many of the staff interviewed expressed that they were 'very surprised' or 'shocked' to learn of allegations of sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination at the commission," says the report.

"These staff said they had never experienced or witnessed any conduct or communication which made them feel uncomfortable while working with the commission."

Sartison's terms of reference were to determine whether there was any evidence that would contravene the discrimination provisions in the province's human rights code.

"We have concluded there is no basis upon which to find that conduct constituting a violation of section 13(1) of the Human Rights Code, in particular, discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, occurred in the commission workplace," the report says.

Sartison's report says she contacted current and former staff and received responses from most, but not all, of them. She acknowledges some staff members declined to participate, citing concerns their identities would not remain confidential.

Sartison also notes the majority of staff who work or have worked for the commission have been women, with notable exceptions being Oppal, Boddie and commission lawyer Art Vertlieb. …

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