Buckets of Data

June 30, 1997

Protected: BC Report: June 30, 1997: SFU’s sinking credibility

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June 21, 1997

Protected: GLOBE AND MAIL, 21 June 1997: SNAFU AT SFU Why can’t our universities make their sexual-harassment policies work?

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June 19, 1997

SFU news, June 19, 1997: Independent arbitration board established to review controversial Donnelly dismissal

Filed under: Marsden,Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 3:58 pm

June 19, 1997 * Vol . 9, No. 4
Independent arbitration board established to review controversial Donnelly dismissal

An independent arbitration board, chaired by well-known lawyer and arbitrator Stephen Kelleher, has been established to review the recent dismissal of SFU swim coach Liam Donnelly.

Exactly when and how the three-person board will proceed is up to Kelleher and his fellow members: lawyer Fran Watters, appointed by the university, and lawyer Sandra Banister, appointed by Donnelly. At press time, it was not known whether board deliberations would be open to the public.

President John Stubbs dismissed Donnelly on May 23 following a formal investigation which found that Donnelly had violated the university’s harassment policy.

Donnelly, a member of SFU’s administrative and professional staff association (APSA), subsequently appealed his dismissal through the “problem-solving” policy (AD 9-17) covering APSA members.

This policy provides for the establishment of an arbitration board in dismissal cases to review “whether the president has exercised reasonable judgement” in formulating his decision. The board’s decision is final and binding on all parties.

In announcing the university’s appointee, Stubbs said: “It is my personal hope that the arbitrators will not be constrained in any way in their review of the facts of the case and the fairness of the decision.”

The origins of Donnelly’s dismissal go back to the fall of 1995 when a woman student filed a complaint with the university’s harassment office. The university, guided both by the harassment policy’s confidentiality clause and provincial protection of privacy legislation, initially refused to identify the complainant’s name. However, the complainant was later identified — through her own interviews with off-campus media — as Rachel Marsden.

At the outset the university also refused to define the specifics of Donnelly’s “violations” of the harassment policy, again because of confidentiality constraints. However, Marsden was later quoted in the mass media as having described it as “date rape.”

Marsden’s complaint resulted in five days of hearings in the spring of 1996 before an investigative committee struck under the terms of SFU’s harassment policy. Marsden and several witnesses gave evidence under oath and were subjected to questioning by the committee.

The investigating committee was comprised of a faculty member, staff member and a student. The university is not releasing their names on the advice of its lawyer.

As required by the principles of natural justice, the harassment office kept both parties fully informed as the complaint was dealt with.

Shortly before the formal hearings were to begin, Donnelly’s lawyer told the harassment office that her client would not participate. Donnelly was notified both verbally and in writing of the possible consequences.

Donnelly also withdrew a complaint he had made against Marsden through the harassment office.

In November of 1996 the committee delivered to the president its final report which found that Donnelly had violated both section one (general harassment) and section two (sexual harassment) of the policy. The committee recommended dismissal.

As required by policy, Stubbs circulated the report to both parties and asked for “submissions.” Donnelly then attempted to present new information to the president, but it was not considered on the advice of the university’s lawyer, Anita Braha, who argued that such information had not been provided under oath and had not been subject to examination as had evidence supporting Marsden’s complaint.

At the same time, Donnelly sought to re-submit the complaint which he had earlier filed, and then withdrew, against Marsden. His request to re-submit came approximately 13 months after his original complaint was filed.

Donnelly’s request to re-submit was turned down by the harassment office because it exceeded the policy’s time limit which requires that complaints be filed “within six months” of the date of the last alleged incident. Donnelly then appealed to the president for a time waiver, but Stubbs ruled that Donnelly “did not have a reasonable and bona fide cause” for the delay and that such a waiver would not be in the “best interests of justice.”

Donnelly’s final submissions requesting a time waiver were presented to the president’s office in April of this year.

Given the finding that a university employee was in violation of the university’s sexual harassment policy, the university negotiated a “remedy” with Marsden to compensate her for the impact on her life. This compensation, which included a $12,000 payment, was viewed as confidential, but was subsequently leaked to the media.

Some media reports incorrectly reported that the compensation included a passing grade in an uncompleted course. In fact, the president had asked an academic department if it would be willing to waive on compassionate grounds a course requirement for a major so that Marsden, who already has enough credits for a degree, could graduate with the credential she originally sought. The department has yet to rule on the president’s request.

June 17, 1997

Protected: Globe and Mail, 17 June 1997: SFU plans to change harassment policy

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June 16, 1997

Maclean’s June 16, 1997: Campus cross fire

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Chris Wood, “Campus cross fire: a coach’s firing stirs debate over gender politics”Maclean’s (Toronto Edition)June 16, 1997SECTION: v.110(24) Je 16’97 pg 57; ISSN: 0024-9262She is a striking 22-year-old student at Simon Fraser University. He is a square-jawed, clean-cut 29-year-old who, until last month, coached the B.C. university’s award-winning swim team. They first met in 1990 when Rachel Marsden joined a swim club where Liam Donnelly coached. But what transpired over a period of 18 months in 1994 and 1995 only they know for certain. One thing, however, is clear: either Marsden or Donnelly is lying about it. She claims Donnelly forced her to have sex during a date in September, 1995. ”I dated him consensually, I just didn’t want to sleep with him,” she has said. Donnelly tells a very different story. Not only does he deny any sexual contact, he insists that she was obsessed with him. Late last month, a year after a closed-door hearing in which Donnelly refused to take part, Simon Fraser president John Stubbs fired the coach for violating its policy on sexual harassment. ”What started off as a request to listen to her problems,” says Donnelly, ”has turned into a nightmare.”Whoever is telling the truth, the controversial case is providing the latest flash point in an ongoing war over sexual politics in the ivory tower. Defending Donnelly’s firing, SFU spokesman Gregg Macdonald said the institution was ”legally obligated to provide a learning environment free from harassment.” But the coach’s defenders say the university failed to consider evidence supporting his version of events. And those who monitor sexual harassment on Canadian campuses say the case only adds to the concern that gender politics is making a mockery of justice.”Are there kangaroo courts? Yes, in some universities,” says Winnipeg lawyer Naomi Levine, president of the Canadian Association Against Sexual Harassment in Higher Education. ”Political correctness is driving it.” While the handling of such cases has rocked several campuses in recent years–most notably the universities of British Columbia, Western Ontario and New Brunswick –few of the hundreds of harassment complaints laid each year are fraught with as much tension as the one at Simon Fraser.While it is possible Marsden’s case was very compelling, her lawyer was offering no comment last week. And pleading confidentiality, SFU officials refused to release details of the case, presented during five days of hearings before a panel that included faculty, staff and students. But late last week, The Vancouver Sun, citing a confidential letter from Stubbs to Marsden and Donnelly, reported that the university awarded Marsden $12,000 in compensation.Donnelly, meanwhile, has released a raft of material, bolstered by testimonials from friends and swimmers he has coached, to support his version. According to Donnelly, the month after the alleged date rape, Marsden sent him an e-mail in which she acknowledged that he seemed uninterested in her–but invited him to join her in her car for sex. ”If you want to go inside me,” she wrote, ”I could sit on your lap or we could do it laying down.”During the same period, friends and colleagues confirm that Marsden haunted Donnelly’s office and the university pool. Provocative photographs of her appeared under his office door. Of course, no one has ever had a chance to officially challenge Donnelly’s version.According to Donnelly, he informed Marsden in September, 1995, that her attentions must stop. The following month, he consulted the university’s harassment office for advice. In November, Marsden filed her complaint with the same office. An RCMP spokesman says that the force also looked into Marsden’s rape complaint against Donnelly, but found no evidence to support it. Whether any of that information ever reached the university panel is impossible to say.In a decision based on legal advice he says he now regrets taking, Donnelly did not attend the hearing. His side of events was not presented, and Marsden’s case was not subject to challenge. Evidently, the panel accepted her evidence, concluding in a report released in October that Donnelly had violated two sections of the school’s harassment policy.Two months later, Donnelly did present his account in writing to Stubbs. But the president disregarded the information because it had not been presented at the hearing. He fired Donnelly late last month, a decision that has many observers voicing concern over how such cases are handled.One common criticism is that those who sit on sexual harassment panels frequently lack the credentials that would be expected in a formal courtroom setting. Levine also faults the now-routine refusal to identify them. ”The university community,” she says, ”has a right to know who is sitting in judgment.” For Donnelly there remains one avenue for possible vindication. He has applied under university policy to have an arbitration panel review his case. But university rules limit such panels to ”reviewing whether the president has exercised reasonable judgment in his decision.” As a result, what really went on between the handsome coach and the attractive student may never get the balanced airing that might dispel the fears of kangaroo justice on campus.

June 11, 1997

Protected: Globe and Mail, 11 June 1997: SFU ignored new info

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June 10, 1997

Protected: The National – CBC Television. Toronto: Jun 10, 1997: Rally over fired coach.

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Toronto Sun: June 10, 1997: The Last Word

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The Toronto SunJune 10, 1997, Tuesday, Final EDITIONSECTION: SPORTS, Pg. 86HEADLINE: THE LAST WORDBYLINE: STEVE SIMMONSThey met, innocently enough, at a British Columbia swim club in 1990. He was 22, a young coach just starting out. She was 15, a teenaged swimmer with wide eyes and an engaging smile.No one then could see the trouble that would come from Liam Donnelly coaching Rachel Marsden.No one then could see how two lives would be turned upside down, with their names in the headlines, a coaching job lost and a sordid sexual scandal of moral and ethical proportions that has shocked the good people of Vancouver.Liam Donnelly was fired as swim coach of Simon Fraser University on May 23 after being accused of “date rape,” a complaint made by Marsden. He says nothing of the kind ever happened. He says it with authority. The decision to remove him smacks of political correctness, overreaction and academic myopia.The story Donnelly tells is chilling and frightening and it also is important.He was coaching the university swim team when Rachel Marsden, on academic scholarship, decided to try out in 1993. They had met before, worked together and there were problems, swimming related, left unresolved.But this time it was different. This time, Donnelly says, Marsden wanted to become part of his life. This is his version of what happened, and why he believes he has been wronged. This is his story.WATCHINGAfter quitting the swim team after only a few weeks of training, Marsden began showing up at practices anyhow. At early practices. She was there at 5: 30 in the morning, just watching, watching.”She began dropping by more and more frequently,” Donnelly says. “Began sending e-mail, cards, and flowers.”Five times she showed up uninvited at Donnelly’s home, he alleges. He thought it was just a college kid with a crush on him. He thought he could handle it.But the whole situation got out of hand.”I would like to meet with you sometime soon for something very erotic,” Marsden wrote in one of her explicit e-mails to him, Donnelly says. “I think the best way to meet would be if we were to go somewhere private … I’ll be wearing a black overcoat and stiletto heels … I don’t think words will be very necessary so I suggest that you just relax and let me undress you, touch you …”Donnelly ignored the invitation and attempted to ignore Marsden. But it kept happening. After returning from a swim meet in Europe, the word at Simon Fraser was that he and Marsden were having an affair.CONDOMSAnd then other things started to happen, things he can’t completely explain. One day, his car, in the university parking lot, was littered with condoms. Another day, he began receiving Playboy magazine in the mail, even though he had not subscribed to it. Another day, he would find provocative photos of Marsden slipped under his office door, photos that have since been passed on to Vancouver newspapers. Another day, the phone would ring and someone at the other end of the line would hang up.And after that, a poster advertising phone sex was put on a campus bulletin board: He recognized the phone number, it was his.Donnelly then went to the harassment office at Simon Fraser and filed a complaint. They told him to begin documenting the odd activities. Marsden filed a complaint at the same office, saying that Donnelly had sexually assaulted her.After some legal advice, Donnelly dropped his complaint and chose not to participate in Marsden’s complaint. So instead he went to the police. And then Marsden went to the police. In either case, no charges were laid.With nowhere else to turn, Donnelly went back to the harassment office at the university. They told him it was too late. The time limit, apparently, had run out.And soon after, his time at the university was up. After a five-day hearing – at which Donnelly chose not to appear, apparently on the advice of a lawyer – a university panel recommended that Donnelly be fired. The panel’s report has not been made public nor will it be. Later, the university held a news conference to announce it was reconfirming its decision to fire Donnelly. The university fired him and then announced he was still fired.”Why do you do that if you’re not defensive about what already happened?” said Loryl Russell, Donnelly’s new lawyer.You do it because you are rigid and authoritative.Steve Simmons can be reached via e-mail at ssimmons@sunpub.com

June 9, 1997

Globe and Mail, 9 June 1997: Reported deal in harassment case troubles SFU faculty

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Reported deal in harassment case troubles SFU faculty

The Globe and Mail, 9 June 1997 A6

VANCOUVER — A report of a secret $12,000 settlement with a Simon Fraser University student who said she was sexually harassed by a swim coach has angered several faculty members and sparked calls for new harassment policies.

Under a settlement approved by SFU president John Stubbs, student Rachel Marsden was compensated for a scholarship she failed to receive, lost summer employment, injuries to her feelings and an inability to work regularly as an aerobics instructor, a Vancouver newspaper has reported. Dr. Stubbs also agreed to allow Ms. Marsden to pass an uncompleted course and to graduate, the paper said.

Dr. Stubbs refused yesterday to comment on the report. Faculty members, however, were critical of the university’s administration.

In interviews, they expressed concerns about Dr. Stubbs’s performance as president and about the school’s administrators, who, they said, offer more support to accusers than to those who may be unfairly accused of harassment. The faculty members also questioned whether the university’s academic standards had been appropriately upheld.

SFU is the third B.C. university in recent years to be riven by a controversy involving a sexual-harassment case. The University of Victoria’s political- science department was in turmoil in 1993 over an unofficial report that included unconfirmed allegations of misconduct. Graduate courses in the political-science department at the University of British Columbia were temporarily discontinued two years ago after the faculty was accused of pervasive racism and sexism.

SFU faculty members used to gloat about their administrators, physics professor Leslie Ballentine said.

“We’d say, ‘Those administrators at UBC, we’re glad we do not have them here,’ ” he said yesterday. “But today, we have no reason to be smug.”

Ms. Marsden, 22, has said she was forced to have sex with SFU swim coach Liam Donnelly during a relationship between the spring of 1994 and the fall of 1995. Mr. Donnelly has denied having any sort of intimate relationship with Ms. Marsden.

Mr. Donnelly and Ms. Marsden met in 1990. In 1993, she tried out for the university swim team that he was coaching. She was not a member of the team during the time she contends she had a relationship with Mr. Donnelly.

He did not participate in a hearing into the allegations. Based on a substantial body of evidence given under oath and not contradicted, a three-member panel decided that Mr. Donnelly had violated the university’s harassment policy.

After Dr. Stubbs fired Mr. Donnelly from his position at the university, the coach said publicly that he was the victim and that Ms. Marsden had harassed him.

SFU faculty members said they were disturbed that administrators made deals behind closed doors and refused to talk about any settlement. In the absence of full disclosure, they were left to draw conclusions based on media reports.

Nevertheless, several aspects of the incident bothered those faculty members, including whether Dr. Stubbs followed proper procedure in allowing Ms. Marsden to receive a “pass” in a course she did not complete.

The granting of a pass in an uncompleted course is usually reserved for students in tragic situations. If a student has done well throughout the year but does not complete the final exam, a pass would be considered. However, such a decision is usually not made by the school’s president.

Prof. Ballentine was disturbed by reports of a secret payment. He also said current policies are unfair to university faculty and staff members because an accuser has no risk and administrators do little to protect the reputation of those whose reputation is on the line.

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June 6, 1997

Kitchener Record: June 6, 1997: University defends firing coach who skipped hearing

Filed under: Marsden — bucketsdata @ 11:38 pm

The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario)June 6, 1997 Friday Final EditionSECTION: FRONT; Pg. A12University defends firing of coach who skipped hearingVANCOUVER – Simon Fraser University was right to fire its swim coach after he was accused of sexually harassing a student, the university’s lawyer said Thursday.Anita Braha faced intense questioning from the media and members of the Simon Fraser swim team during a news conference in Vancouver, but maintained the university acted appropriately.Former swimmer Rachel Marsden, 22, has said she was a victim of date rape, a charge Liam Donnelly, 29, has vehemently denied.University president John Stubbs fired Donnelly — a former Simon Fraser coach of the year — May 23 after a three-member campus committee found him guilty of sexually harassing Marsden.Braha said Donnelly had a chance to defend himself during the committee hearing, but decided against it. She said the evidence may have been one-sided but Donnelly’s silence, while not implying guilt, could lead to negative conclusions. Donnelly has said he did not attend the hearing on the advice of his lawyer.He now has a new lawyer and has asked a university arbitration board to review his dismissal.He’s also asked the university to either reopen Marsden’s harassment allegation, or allow him to re-file a harassment complaint he made against Marsden. He earlier dropped that complaint — again on the advice of his first lawyer.Dozens of swimmers, former coaches and parents have spoken out in Donnelly’s defence and have begun a fund for his legal expenses.They agree with Donnelly’s claim that Marsden was obsessed with him and showered him with unwanted attention and gifts.Last week, Donnelly released e-mail he says Marsden sent offering him sexual favors, as well as photos of her in modelling poses.Photographer David Anthony said this week he took the pictures about three years ago.He said Marsden told him she was interested in someone who didn’t seem to reciprocate the romantic feelings. “She made a comment that maybe these photos would help her get the person,” said Anthony, who added that Marsden appeared to be joking.

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