Marcel Aubut apologizes for behaviour, quits law firm | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Marcel Aubut apologizes for behaviour, quits law firm

Marcel Aubut, the former president of the Canadian Olympic Committee speaks to reporters in Montreal Friday, October 9, 2015. Aubut apologized for his behaviour amid widespread allegations he sexually harassed several women. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe
October 09, 2015 - 12:05 PM

MONTREAL - Promising to seek help and become a better person, Marcel Aubut apologized on Friday for his behaviour amid widespread allegations he sexually harassed several women.

The influential Montreal lawyer, who until last weekend was president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, also announced he was stepping down from the BCF law firm and taking a time out from professional activities.

It marks a stunning fall for Aubut, who has made headlines for several days now for his inappropriate behaviour toward women over the years.

"For the last 10 days or so, I have been living in turmoil," Aubut said in a statement he read from a cordoned-off podium at a Montreal hotel.

"The crisis brought on by my behaviour has also plunged into turmoil my family, my friends, my associates, employees and everyone who has been hurt by this behaviour.

"Today, to all those people and to all the others who have been outraged by what they have seen or heard in the last several days, it is from the bottom of my heart, the bottom of my heart, and with all the sincerity I am capable of, that I offer my unreserved apologies."

Aubut stepped down as president of the COC last weekend after women accused him of sexual comments and unwanted touching.

An employee lodged a harassment complaint with the organization, but withdrew it after Aubut's resignation. The COC said it hasn't received any other complaints, although other women have given interviews to Quebec media accusing Aubut of sexually harassing them.

The 67-year-old native of Saint-Hubert-de-Riviere-du-Loup, Que., was emotional, his hands shaking at times, as he said he'd never thought about his behaviour in 45 years of professional life.

"Today, the wake-up call is brutal," he said. "I have an enormous, an enormous, lots of, lots of, sorrow. I infinitely regret having hurt so many people who certainly did not deserve it. I hope that one day these people will be able to forgive me.

"I have already begun consulting the best experts who will help me to change my behaviour and become a better person."

Amid the current crisis, he said he he understands that society has changed and that it "demands greater respect between individuals, more specifically between men and women."

"I assume full responsibility for my actions," Aubut said just before leaving through a side door. "I have nobody else to blame but myself."

La Presse and the Globe and Mail both reported a letter written by the then CEO of the COC to Aubut in 2011 indicated high-ranking people in the organization were uncomfortable with his conduct toward women.

Interim COC president Tricia Smith said this week the organization's board was not aware of "any specific interactions that would be construed as harassment.''

Smith insisted the board did not know about the letter but said an independent body has been asked to look into the circumstances of the June 2011 letter.

Aubut became a board member of the COC in 2000 and took over as president in 2010.

On Friday, his law firm confirmed Aubut's immediate departure, with Andre Morrissette, the chair of the board at BCF, wishing him the best of luck as he seeks help.

"Mr. Aubut and his family are going through an extremely difficult period," Morrissette said in a statement.

"Mr. Aubut acknowledged his mistakes this morning and he takes responsibility for his actions We welcome this gesture in undoubtedly difficult circumstances."

Aubut previously served as chief executive officer of the NHL's Quebec Nordiques until the team moved to Colorado in 1995. He notably helped retired NHL hockey players Anton, Marian and Peter Stastny defect from communist Czechoslovakia to Canada in 1980 to play in Quebec City.

He is both an officer of the Order of Canada and of the National Order of Quebec and was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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