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

MISSING: Police hoping to locate man reported missing

Ponoka RCMP looking to public to help find Joseph Desjarlais

Breaking: SuperNet provider Axia cannot guarantee continued service

Alberta’s health, schools, libraries, municipal governments at risk from delayed bidding

Highway 53 concerns being looked at

Speed zone change being contemplated, other issues will depend on who has jurisdiction

Court full as schools, parents dispute Alberta gay-straight alliance law

Justice Centre argues keeping parents out of the loop violates freedom of religion and expression

Research paper states low income earners hit hardest by dairy supply management

Canada’s poorest spend more of annual income on food staples than higher income earners

In reversal, Trump signs executive order to stop family separation

President had been wrongly insisting he had no choice but to separate families apprehended at border

After World Cup lineup photographed, England urges media to help team

Now the England camp is actually asking media: Are you with us or against us?

Liberals set hiring, procurement rules for federally-funded projects

Indigenous Peoples, recent immigrants, veterans, young people, people with disabilities and women to be hired

Get your hot dog water, only $40 in Vancouver

‘Hot Dog Water’ seller in Vancouver gets laughs, sales with savvy marketing

Privacy questions linger two years after Canada-U.S. terror list deal struck

Two years after Canadian and U.S. security agencies signed an updated agreement officials consider privacy risk

Manitoba MP was allegedly abusive at Red Cross shelter

Canadian Red Cross has filed a complaint that Liberal backbencher MaryAnn Mihychuk ignored protocol

A look at what Canadian teams might do in the 1st round of the NHL draft

Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Edmonton in top 10 of upcoming draft

Koko, the gorilla who knew sign language, dies at 46

Western lowland gorilla, 46, died in her sleep in California

Clearview and Wolf Creek school boards sign historic agreement

Partnership will help 2,000 high school students

Most Read