Marcel Aubut: Fresh allegations surface as harassment probe begins

Marcel Aubut: Fresh allegations surface as harassment probe begins

Main pic: Vladimir Putin visiting the US and Canada’s team fans houses at the Olympic Park in Sochi (2014-02-14). During visit to Canada House at the Olympic Park in Sochi. With President of the Canadian Olympic Committee Marcel Aubut. Photo credit: The Presidential Press and Information Office.

MONTREAL — As the head of the Canadian Olympic Committee awaits the results of an investigation into a sexual harassment complaint, a second woman has come forward with her own allegations against Marcel Aubut.

Montreal lawyer Amelia Salehabadi−Fouques granted several interviews with local media on Thursday about her interactions with Aubut, who temporarily stepped aside as president of the committee and chairman of the Canadian Olympic Foundation late Wednesday after a sexual harassment allegation came to light.

The COC said in a statement that a former chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court, Francois Rolland, has been retained to investigate the initial complaint. None of the allegations have been proven.

In his own statement on the initial complaint, Aubut described the allegations as a “remark he allegedly made to a colleague” and that he’d offered his “unconditional support” to those investigating the matter.

He called it a “normal process” that should be completed by mid−October.

The name of the complainant in the initial matter has not been made public.

Salehabadi−Fouques, who specializes in sports law and has been a member of the board of the Canadian Soccer Association since 2013, says she was the victim of harassment by Aubut on three occasions, beginning when she met him four years ago.

Her unproven claims include an allegation of a forced kiss during their first meeting and allegations of sexually charged comments on their next two encounters.

Attempts to reach both Salehabadi−Fouques and Aubut by The Canadian Press were unsuccessful on Thursday and when asked about the fresh allegations, a COC spokesman simply referred to the committee’s previous statement on the matter.

In interviews with several French−language media, including Montreal radio station 98.5 FM, Salehabadi−Fouques said she contacted Aubut about four years ago, while teaching at Universite de Montreal, because she hoped to get involved in the Canadian Olympic Committee.

They arranged to meet at a swanky restaurant in downtown Montreal, but she said she was surprised the meeting took place at the bar instead of at a table.

“It became clear the only thing he was interested in was not my professional experience, but my physique, etcetera,” Salehabadi−Fouques told 98.5 FM. “There were very personal remarks, questions of a private nature about me.”

She said he kissed her with his tongue later in the evening.

She said at the end of the evening she took a taxi by herself.

In the various interviews, she spoke about another alleged incident, in Quebec City last year, when she said she was asked to attend a business meeting that others were to attend, but where only Aubut showed up.

She alleged the only hotel room that had been reserved had been done so in Aubut’s name.

“He said to me, ’When am I coming to your bedroom? I’ve asked for keys for your room,’” she said, adding she didn’t sleep that night.

She said there was a final incident where Aubut allegedly harassed her at a match at the women’s under−20 soccer World Cup last year at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

“It was in front of my 15−year−old son,” Salehabadi−Fouques said. “We were walking in the tunnel toward the VIP room and he came next to me and said ’When are we sleeping together?’.”

She ignored Aubut’s comment, but her son, who’d been within earshot, asked his mother if he’d heard correctly.

“He (my son) repeated it to me and that, to me, was the final straw,” she said.

Salehabadi−Fouques told the radio station she hasn’t decided whether she’ll file any sort of formal complaint.

But when reading that a COC employee had come forward with a complaint, the mother of three said she decided she couldn’t stay silent any longer.

A day earlier on Twitter, Salehabadi−Fouques, responding to a congratulatory comment about coming forward, wrote that “as a mother I will always stand (up) for younger women being harassed.”

Aubut, 67, has been a member of the COC since 2000 and formally took over the presidency in April 2010.

He previously served as chief executive officer of the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques until the team moved to Colorado in 1995.

He notably helped retired NHL hockey players Anton, Marian and Peter Stastny defect from communist Czechoslovakia to Canada in 1980 to play for the Quebec Nordiques.

He was inducted into the Order of Canada as a member in 1986 and was promoted to officer in 1993. In 2006, he was made an officer of the National Order of Quebec.

Aubut was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

He continues to practise law and is a partner, lawyer and vice−chairman of the board of directors at BCF, a Montreal−based law firm.

The firm put out a statement Wednesday saying it would not comment on the investigation, adding Aubut’s position at the firm was not at risk since the allegations did not directly involve his professional activities.

The Canadian Press

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