Wednesday, 22 November 2017

More accusations of sexual abuse by persons in power (Part 5)

Before I publish the names of alleged sexual abusers, I want to point out to my readers that unless the abusers have actually admitted to sexually abusing other persons, they should be presumed to be innocent of the accusations. However, that old adage comes to mind—where there is smoke, there is fire. Further, in my opinion, sexual abuse also includes trying to get another person to participate in some form of a sexual act. I am also cognizant of the fact that some women claim that they were raped or otherwise sexually abused when in fact, the so-called sex acts didn’t happen between them and other men. They do it to make a name for themselves.  However, there are also women who were raped or sexually abused but are too embarrassed to make that information public. And now, I will tell you about the fifth accused sexual abuser.

Marcel Aubut

This man I am writing about is a lawyer, the former president of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and the former president and Chief Executive Officer of the  Quebec Nordiques  of the Canadian National Hockey League. In 1986, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Officer, the highest recognition in that Order in 1993. In 2006, he was made an Officer of the National Order of Quebec. In 1999, he was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

Before his dramatic fall from power, Aubut had effectively taken over the organization dedicated to supporting Canadian Olympic teams to the point it was often dubbed the “Marcel Show.”

He had been president for nearly six years and an active board member since 2005, and during his tenure, the COC was  transformed into a glitzy brand that attracted top corporate sponsors, held lavish events and doubled annual spending to more than $50 million.

He was a highly a respected citizen in Canada and a very powerful man in sports but his alleged sexual abusive conduct did him in when three women alleged that Marcel Aubut, their boss sexually harassed them, His honours and his position in sports at the time of this writing have been dashed to the ground so to speak especially when it became publicly known that he was accused of sexually abusing young women.

A formal complaint alleging sexual harassment against Aubut was filed with the COC by Leanne Nicolle. a female employee in 2015 and the former executive director of the Canadian Olympic Foundation.

At age 68, Aubut in 2016 then stepped aside from his COC duties as president and left the COC while the matter was being investigated

He said that he left his presidency of COC because, as he claimed, the allegations were a major distraction to the organization. I am convinced that the Board realized that having this man remaining as president of COC was an embarrassment and they told him to take a hike as far away as possible.

saying that he never intended to offend or upset anyone by anything he might have said in the performance of his duties.

If you abuse someone, you can hardly claim that you didn’t intent to offend or upset the person you are abusing unless you were doing it while you were unconscious.

The proof exists that he offended and upset women when without mentioning the accusations against him, this man chose to say in 2016 when he was in Montreal,  “It's from the bottom of my heart and with all sincerity that I offer my apologies without reservation.  “I infinitely regret to have hurt people who have not deserved it. I hope one day they will forgive me.”

 Nicolle, who is now the president and CEO of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto, told CTV television that many people working under Aubut who knew what was going on were also being abused by this man.

Nicolle said, “They (the women) were being harassed and they were being yelled at all the time and living in constant fear of reprisal. The whole organization was based in fear. The people who knew it was happening were being affected too so we were on this island together.”

Aubut said in an interview that in his 45-year career, he never stopped to ask himself about his behaviour, “I must remind myself that society has changed, and it expects more respect between people, especially between men and women.”  Let me quote that old German adage—Too smart, too late.

He added that he has also resigned from the BCF law firm after he had been accused of sexual abuse. His profile page in the firm's website has also been taken down.

Unfortunately, the accusation against him was a major distraction that obscured the COC’s real goals, especially when the 2015 Rio Games were fast approaching. Aubut said at that time,. “For these reasons, I announce that I am stepping down as president of the Canadian Olympic Committee.” That was the beginning of his spiraling downfall.

Nicolle says that she was warned about Aubut before she even started the job in 2013, although she didn’t think it would affect her. That was an erroneous presumption on her part.

Nicolle told the media in October 2017 that she documented his inappropriate and unsettling comments from the first days she started working with him in 2013. She said, “I did it on my phone in the notes page. I started documenting where I was and who I was with.”

Nicolle said she didn’t initially treat the comments as harmful, thinking he was just an “old guy caught in some historical era.”

Her records proved “crucial in the end considering she finally decided to start a legal process against him. She said to the Globe and Mail, ““He was very complimentary,” as she was recounting how Aubut had commented on her size, shape, beauty, and occasionally her intelligence.  

There was a time when such compliments were acceptable to women but nowadays, other than being a compliment about their intelligence, the rest appears to many woman as an overture to some form of sexual abuse. It is OK to say that to a woman if a man is going out with her but saying it to a female employee, especially when the man is her boss, is definitely a no no.

After working under Aubut for several years, Nicolle said she felt broken by his behaviour and by the silence of other employees whom she said saw what was happening to her but looked the other way.

She said that his verbal abuse got particularly bad around the time of the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014. “We worked crazy hours doing crazy things. There was also an inappropriate “physical connection” involved.”

She said, “Every single day I felt like I was trudging through this deep, dark, red substance,” “He was invading everything, my dreams, my every waking moment.”

Aubut did not face criminal charges but apologized for his behaviour.

Nicolle’s complaint led to an investigation in which more than 100 people came forward to share similar experiences.

The COC said that when it received a formal complaint against Aubut, it had retained Fran├žois Rolland, the former chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court, as an independent investigator. Two other women came forward with allegations and the investigation was expanded. The formal complaint was later withdrawn, but third-party investigations continued based on the other complaints.

A three-month review by employment lawyer Christine Thomlinson found that the majority of staff interviewed had “experienced or witnessed harassment, both sexual and personal” during Aubut’s tenure as president of COC.

The staff of the COC stated that they believed that the board and the senior leadership team were aware of information that suggested harassment was occurring in their workplace and they were unable or unwilling to take steps to address it,” according to  Thomlinson’s report released in January 2016.

Aubut’s inappropriate behaviour toward women was simply treated as part of the Marcel package, former employees alleged.

Nicolle said that Aubut’s power and connections within the organization shattered her confidence, and she added that she didn’t speak up earlier because she didn’t know whether she’d be supported.

She wrote that she relied on medication to sleep and alcohol to get through the day, and was on the verge of quitting her job but she changed her mind after she told a male employee about her experience and he told her that he believed her.

She decided to talk about her experience after two years of silence because of recent world events and because she felt more confident. She said, “I’m stronger. I feel like I have a really solid message for young women and young people.  I’m outside of it and I've done the work to heal.”

She also said her daughter was her inspiration, and credited her husband and son for helping her get through the hardest time in her life.

For women caught in similar situations, Nicolle said that she recommends the victims  gather evidence and documenting it meticulously, telling someone trustworthy, and knowing their worth.

Nicolle said that men who want to be part of the solution should be empathetic and believe victims, and shouldn’t be afraid to act. Amen to that.

In my opinion, Marcel Aubut is a sleaze bag and should never again be placed in a position where he has authority over women. If he tried that kind of conduct with men, he would be very lucky if they didn’t punch his lights out.

The Canadian Olympic Committee continued to take steps to make sure the organization was a safe environment for all its employees and athletes. 

Tricia Smith, a British Columbia-based lawyer and former Olympian who has taken over the COC as its  interim president. said during an event at the Olympic Speed Skating Oval. "We have taken the steps so far as we need to take in terms of making sure our staff is safe and the workplace is healthy.

Why didn’t the COC take those steps much earlier?  The answer is easy to determine. The then Board of Directors didn’t care. Their inaction was not unlike a man sitting on a stove who believes it is not hot and then jumps off of it when his ass is singed.

I am wondering if his awards of the Order of Canada will be taken from him. Those awards are given to outstanding citizens who have earned the respect of all Canadians. Since he is no longer in possession of any respect in Canada, he should not be in possession of those awards. Years ago, a powerful man in the hockey profession was awarded the Order of Canada. When it was publicly learned that he had been stealing money from his hockey players, his Order of Canada medal was taken from him. 

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