Buckets of Data

June 2, 1997

Globe and Mail, 2 June 1997: Fired swim coach to seek arbitration

Filed under: Marsden — bucketsdata @ 2:46 am

Fired swim coach to seek arbitration Simon Fraser won’t change its decision after sexual harassment charge counteredThe Globe and Mail, 2 June 1997, C11VANCOUVER — Simon Fraser University is standing by its decision to fire swim coach Liam Donnelly for sexually harassing a swimmer even after he made public provocative photos and sexually explicit E-mail she sent him.Donnelly, 29, said Friday he had provided the university with the information.University spokesman Ken Mennell couldn’t confirm that development, but said the “decision to dismiss him stands.”Donnelly said he will ask for an arbitration board to review his firing next week. The three-member board’s word is binding.University president John Stubbs fired Donnelly as head coach May 23 after a campus committee found him guilty of sexually harassing Rachel Marsden, 22.She said Donnelly forced her to have sex during a 16-month relationship from the spring of 1994 to the fall of 1995.”Liam is the victim of an obsessive woman, incomprehensible legal advice and a process so rigidly fixed in its political correctness that it condoned a gross injustice,” said Donnelly’s lawyer Loryl Russell.Marsden’s lawyer Kate Hughes said Friday she couldn’t comment on the E-mail, or anything else, because of Simon Fraser’s confidentiality rule in all harassment cases.Earlier in the week, Marsden said she was a victim of date rape.Donnelly told a news conference Friday that Marsden sexually harassed him for 18 months.”I’ve never had any sort of an intimate relationship whatsoever with Rachel Marsden or any other athlete I’ve coached,” he said.”What started off as a request from her to listen to her problems has turned into a nightmare that has now cost me my job, and may cost me my career and reputation.”Marsden admitted to Simon Fraser’s harassment office Dec. 2, 1995, that she sent sexually explicit messages to Donnelly “but it was not my intent to harass him with this.”Donnelly and Marsden met in 1990 at New Westminster’s Hyack swim club where he was a coach and she was a swimmer.Later, she complained about his coaching style, saying he was too demanding.Her parents took the matter to the club’s board but the club stood behind Donnelly, and at 17, Marsden and her family quit the club.Marsden went to Simon Fraser on an academic scholarship and in 1993, tried out for the university swim team Donnelly was coaching but quit after a few weeks.Donnelly said when he returned from a trip to Europe in the fall of 1995, he learned Marsden had been telling the campus swimming community they were having a secret affair.”I asked her to stop all contact, to stop sending gifts and E-mail,” he said.Donnelly complained to Simon Fraser’s harassment office in the fall of 1995. At the same time, Marsden complained to the office that he sexually assaulted her.Donnelly said he dropped his complaint and didn’t participate in the hearing into Marsden’s complaint because his lawyer at the time believed the university’s panel lacked proper legal procedures and wasn’t run by qualified lawyers.Donnelly was also advised that the university did not have the legal authority to stop the harassment.He went to the RCMP and laid a complaint of harassment against Marsden, who complained to police that Donnelly sexually assaulted her. No charges were laid in either case because of a lack of evidence.Thirteen months later in 1996, Donnelly tried to reactivate his original complaint against Marsden with the university but was told he had exceeded the six-month time limit. His request for an extension was denied.Mennell said the harassment office can’t reopen the hearing into Marsden’s complaint, or reactivate Donnelly’s.

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