President of COC resigns after harassment allegations
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
Marcel Aubut, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), has resigned from his position following several allegations of sexual harassment made toward him.
The Globe and Mail reported on September 30 that a female staff member had made a complaint of alleged sexual harassment by Aubut to the COC. Since the complaint has been made public, two other staff members have also come forward.
One of the victims, Amelia Salehabadi-Fouques, is a member of Soccer Canada’s Board of Directors. Salehabadi-Fouques is also married and has three children. She told CTVthat Aubut has harassed her on several occasions. One of these occasions was four years ago, when Aubut invited her to a dinner under the pretense that there would be a business meeting. However, the conversation turned to her personal life, and took a sour turn after the dinner.
“I was so shocked, because he kissed me,” Salehabadi-Fouques told CTV. “It was outside the restaurant, we were walking out and I was so surprised that I couldn’t react. I never in a hundred years thought a man would do that, so I was really under shock. He wanted me to go with him somewhere but I just took a cab and went home.”
Over the next few years, Aubut allegedly continued to harass Salehabadi-Fouques, including proposing sexual relations to her while her and her teenage son were attending a soccer game, as well as inviting her to a gala and trying to coerce her into sharing a hotel with him.
Aubut stepped aside immediately when the allegations were brought to light, and formally resigned on October 3.
“Although I assume full responsibility for my effusive and demonstrative personality, I would like to reiterate that I never intended to offend or upset anyone with my remarks or my behaviour,” he said in a statement made to Newswire. “I realize that my attitude could at times be perceived as questionable by some women and could have caused them to feel uncomfortable.”
The COC has launched two third-party investigations. One, regarding the first complaint, will be conducted by François Rolland, former chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court. The second investigation will concern the two most recent allegations, along with any other allegations that may be made in the near future. It has not yet been determined who will head this investigation.
“We would like to thank the complainant for their incredible courage in coming forward,” the COC said in a statement, as reported in the Globe and Mail. “The independent third party process investigating any other complaints will continue uninterrupted. We hope that anyone who has concerns will contact us.”