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

Former teacher returns to Port Alberni to lead Alzheimer’s Walk

Jory Mitchell celebrates his journey with late wife and her Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve issues cougar warning at Kennedy Lake

Cougar encounter reported between Tofino and Ucluelet.

Deadline looming for North Island College scholarship applications

Students have until April 24 to apply for a record number of… Continue reading

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select routes

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries to be sold on Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

Hupacasath First Nation re-elects entire council for new term

Steven Tatoosh takes helm for fifth term as chief, talks economic prosperity for future

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Chaos at the ferry terminal for people heading from Vancouver to the Island

Easter crowds create backlog at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

B.C. RCMP receive application for Police Cat Services

RCMP announced the launch of the Police Cat Services unit as an April fools joke

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Private cargo ship brings Easter feast to the space station

There are three Americans two Russians and one Canadian living on the space station

Notre Dame rector: “Computer glitch” possible fire culprit

The fire burned through the lattice of oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling

Most Read