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.

Just Posted

Jam fam set to expand sweet and spicy empire

Saunders Family Farm gets bigger.

Local skicross racers hit the World Cup circuit

Olympian India Sherret is joined by fellow local racers Zoe Chore and Courtney Hoffos

UPDATED: Hwy 93 reopens after rockslide blocks traffic in Fairmont Hot Springs

Highway at Fairmont between Dutch Creek and Westside Road blocked until geotechnical team can assess

Rob Morrison sworn in as Kootenay-Columbia MP

Parliament set to reconvene on Thursday with election of House Speaker, Throne Speech

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Almost 14,000 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016: new national study

17,000 people have been hospitalized for opioid-related poisoning

Most Read