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London Free Press Business Section:


Londoner to push city hall sex complaint

RANDY RICHMOND, Free Press Reporter   2004-01-16 03:36:14  

A London man and his lawyer are vowing to take their fight against city hall to the limit despite a setback in an Ontario Human Rights complaint . "We are certainly interested in pursuing this as far as possible," said London lawyer Gordon Cudmore.

"Beyond (the commission) if necessary," he added, without elaborating on what further legal action might take place.

A commission analyst has recommended to the commission the case not proceed.

But the man and his lawyer have appealed that recommendation and are awaiting final word from the commission.

The complaint against the city of London alleges a former city hall manager tried to pressure the London man to have oral sex in exchange for a business licence. The man refused.

The complaint focuses on the incidents, but also claims the city is responsible for its employee's behaviour and created a "hostile environment" that allowed the solicitations to take place.

City hall has been rife with complaints of harassment and political infighting for years, leading recently to council adopting a widespread policy against harassment and hiring a human rights specialist.

Neither city officials, the city's lawyer nor commission spokespeople will comment on the case.

But documents obtained from the complainant show the city asked the commission to ignore the complaint because it was filed too long after the alleged incidents and because the employee at the centre of the complaint has died.

The incidents occurred between December 2000 and March 2001 although the London man's problems with city hall extended into spring 2002, the documents say.

The complaint was filed in March 2003.

The commission can reject a complaint if it occurs six months after the alleged incident and that delay was made in bad faith or damages the ability of the other party to defend itself.

The commission employee concluded the delay was done in good faith because the London man was unable medically to file on time.

But the delay and the death of the city hall employee, a key witness, prejudices the city's ability to defend itself, the commission employee concluded.

"I believe there is compelling evidence and witnesses available to go through the process to extract the truth," the London man said.

The appeal of the recommendation lists 11 witnesses the London man says had knowledge of at least some of the problems he was undergoing at the time.

At least four witnesses can testify as to the city employee's alleged sexual misconduct, the appeal states.

The appeal also states that the London man told his doctor and at least one other person about the solicitations at the time they allegedly occurred.

"The complaint is against the corporation, not the individual," the London man added.

In any case, the commission shouldn't discard an investigation because of concerns over evidence, Cudmore said.

"It's one thing to deny the recovery because of a lack of evidence. It is another to deny the process," he said.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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