Sexual harassment complainants at Concordia say they were 'revictimized' by investigation
Published Wednesday, February 6, 2019 6:48PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 7, 2019 9:53AM EST
It appears the investigation into harassment allegations against a professor at Concordia has ended. However, the two former students who came forward with complaints say they were kept in the dark throughout the process – not informed when it was over, or of the result.
It all started with a letter in January 2018, penned by a former creative writing student at Concordia, and containing multiple accusations against a professor dating back 20 years.
There are two complainants, one who remains anonymous, and Ibi Kaslik, a novelist now living in Toronto.
They both provided hours of detailed and painful testimony, they say, to a labour lawyer tasked by the university to handle the investigation.
“I checked in periodically every three or four months to see what the status was, and I was – either people weren’t in the office – there were various avoidance techniques,” Kaslik explained.
Finally, last month, Kaslik managed to reach someone in human resources at the university, only to learn the investigation was over.
“She told me that the case had gone through and that action had been taken,” she said. “But she could not tell me the results of what that action was.”
In a statement to CTV News, the university cited privacy concerns.
“We cannot divulge any information surrounding potential or actual investigations, including the results of any investigations,” a spokesperson wrote. “Coercion, abuse of power, sexual misconduct, and sexual violence are unacceptable behaviours, and Concordia will not tolerate these behaviours from staff or faculty.”
Speaking for herself and on behalf of the other victim, Kaslik says she feels there was no process or due diligence done.
“We were not involved in the process in a transparent way, we weren’t told of any results, we were not kept up to date – we were actually misled several times about what would occur,” she said.
Kaslik was then stunned when she was contacted by a CBC reporter.
“We were told by a journalist who heard from the professor’s lawyer that he was exonerated on all charges, and they were dismissed,” she added.
The professor’s name, title, and contact information are still listed on Concordia’s website.
By email, the second complainant told CTV the lack of communication demonstrates that “this was a process designed to placate the public and cross procedural boxes - the result, an insulting process that caused many people pain.”
Education Minister promises inquiry
Today, Concordia’s handling of the investigation came under fire by Quebec’s Education Minister.
A spokesperson for the ministry told CTV News they would be examining the way the process was handled.
“We consider that an establishment that had investigated a harassment complaint against a member of its personnel would naturally communicate the results to the complainant,” the statement reads. “Such complaints need to be treated with as much transparency as possible.”
A representative of Concordia’s Student Union says that everyone at Concordia is affected by the way this event was handled.
“There needs to be much more transparency and accountability for the people involved in this situation,” said Sophie Hough-Martin.
Kaslik, for her part, calls the investigation ‘whitewashing.’
“We’ve been revictimized by this thing,” she said.