Brock U. denies it told former student to stay quiet on sex harassment complaint | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Brock U. denies it told former student to stay quiet on sex harassment complaint

March 11, 2016 - 3:25 PM

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - An Ontario university denies telling a former student to say nothing about a report into her claims she was sexually harassed by a staff member.

A CBC News report said Brock University had warned the woman to keep quiet about an internal investigation that the network said determined her professor made "an unwelcome sexual advance" and the incident involved "unwelcome physical touching."

In a statement Friday, Brock president Jack Lightstone said if any complainant ever wishes to discuss their experience, they are free to do so, even though the university is bound by confidentiality measures.

Lightstone said Brock regrets if it "led the complainant to believe otherwise," and stressed that the employee involved is no longer assigned to a class and is not on campus.

The complainant, who is not identified in the CBC report, said the incident occurred in the fall of 2014, and she notified university officials and requested an investigation 11 months later.

A statement from the university on Friday said it hired an external investigator — acceptable to the complainant and the respondent — to conduct an independent inquiry, and a final report was submitted in January.

The CBC report said that after the investigation Brock warned the student repeatedly in emails that the results were confidential. CBC quoted the former student as saying she felt Brock was protecting their faculty and protecting their reputation.

"The university has in fact addressed the issue in a serious manner," the Brock statement said.

"The university sincerely regrets the emotional trauma this incident has caused to the complainant, and Brock staff were supportive and responsive as soon as they learned of the complaint," it said.

The university said it cannot identify either party involved, or disclose the terms of the actions it has taken due to privacy and confidentiality obligations.

A sexual violence prevention committee consisting of faculty, staff and students was created last September and is working to develop a new stand-alone policy dealing with sexual violence awareness, prevention and responses, Lightstone said.

"This project will give Brock an updated process that conforms with the guidance set out in Bill 132, Ontario's new sexual violence and harassment and violence legislation," he said.

"Brock takes the issue of sexual harassment very seriously and I encourage any staff, faculty or students who may experience sexual harassment to report it to the Niagara Regional Police or to Brock Campus Security," Lightstone said.

CBC said it sought to interview the professor but that he did not return emails.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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