TVO host Steve Paikin is pictured in a television studio in Toronto on Thursday, February 15, 2018 following a televised Ontario Conservative leadership debate. An independent investigation has cleared a veteran journalist with Ontario’s public broadcaster of sexual harassment allegations, saying Steve Paikin was more credible than the Toronto woman who made the accusations against him. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Sexual harassment allegations against TVO host unsubstantiated: investigation

An independent investigation has cleared TVO host Steve Paikin of sexual harassment allegations

An independent investigation has cleared a veteran journalist with Ontario’s public broadcaster of sexual harassment allegations, saying Steve Paikin was more credible than the Toronto woman who made the accusations against him.

In a report released Friday, investigator Rachel Turnpenney said while there is no doubt Sarah Thomson genuinely believes Paikin propositioned her, the evidence brought forward by Thomson and others does not support her account of what happened.

“The investigator had doubts surrounding Thomson’s ability to accurately observe and recount the events in question,” the report said.

“She tended to make leaps without sufficient evidence to do so and she linked evidence together without factual foundation. Thomson’s evidence also veered towards being exaggerated and untrue.”

Paikin, meanwhile, “was consistent in his evidence that he believes nothing of a sexual nature was said (or implied),” the report said.

Related: TVO host calls sexual harassment allegations false

The investigation was commissioned by Ontario’s public broadcaster in February after Thomson, a former Toronto mayoral candidate, made a series of allegations on her website Women’s Post.

She alleged Paikin, host of TVOntario’s flagship current events program “The Agenda,” made a sexual advance towards her over lunch in 2010 and that she “politely” declined the offer. She then suggested that she was barred from appearing on his show as a result of her refusal.

She further alleged that Paikin made a sexualized comment at a political event two years later.

Paikin addressed the issue in a Facebook post a few days after the posts emerged, saying the allegations were “bogus” but that he had alerted his employer. He continued to host the show during the investigation, which spanned 11 weeks and involved interviews with 21 witnesses.

He tweeted a brief response to the report Friday and declined to comment further.

“While the last 11 weeks have been pretty difficult, I’m relieved to read this report. My deepest thanks to all who believed me,” he wrote.

Thomson did not immediately respond to a request for comment but posted emails and Facebook messages on her website that she said corroborated her account.

The messages, from Thomson’s then-assistant who she said was present at the 2010 lunch, were deemed problematic by the investigator, as was the rest of that witness’s evidence.

Turnpenney said the former assistant could not recall sending the email, and suggested to her that in at least one of the Facebook messages, he was simply trying to “play along.”

Messages he sent to others appeared to disprove Thomson’s account, and he was “unable to provide a credible explanation for why he had taken conflicting positions,” Turnpenney said.

Related: #Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Thomson’s assertion that she was blocked from appearing on “The Agenda” following the lunch was also inaccurate, the investigator said, citing a September 2011 appearance. What’s more, Turnpenney wrote, Paikin does not determine who comes on the show.

“Paikin is not the ultimate gatekeeper for guests on ‘The Agenda.’ Further there is no evidence that Paikin attempted to interfere with or block a producer from booking Thomson on ‘The Agenda,’” she wrote.

As for the 2012 allegations, Turnpenney said Thomson could not place herself, Paikin and a person she named as a witness at the same event.

“The date and location of the event was unclear to the investigator and remained so at the time of drafting this report,” she said. “Thomson could have potentially offered some evidence in the form of hotel receipts or other expenses/records but did not do so.”

TVO’s CEO, Lisa de Wilde, said in a statement that the broadcaster is proud of Paikin’s work and the investigation is now closed.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Comments are closed

Just Posted

School District 6 nominated Summit Youth Hub for award

Hub nominated for a B.C Principals’ and Vice Principals’ Association (BCPVPA) Partnership Award

Invermere library reopens for summer

Summer Reading Club and Pop-up Story Time return

Free beach camps for kids

The Lake Windermere Ambassadors are offering free summer camps for kids at James Chabot Beach.

Fisher announces decision to run for MNBC regional director’s role

Debra Fisher plans to run for Region 4 director in the Métis Nation of B.C. election this fall

Traditional Indigenous languages evaluated for regional signage project

Economic Development Officer works toward inclusive signage project for the Columbia Valley

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Would you take a COVID-19 vaccine? Poll suggests most Canadians say yes

75 per cent of Canadians would agree to take a novel coronavirus vaccine

Budget officer pegs cost of basic income as calls for it grow due to COVID-19

Planned federal spending to date on pandemic-related aid now tops about $174 billion

Most Read