TORONTO — The conclusions from an investigation into the handling of the Jian Ghomeshi scandal are “troubling and disappointing,” the CBC admitted Thursday, as a report detailed allegations that the former “Q” host was “deeply disrespectful to employees” and sexually harassed some colleagues.
A letter to employees signed by upper management apologized to those “who experienced inappropriate behaviour,” saying “it has no place at CBC/Radio-Canada.”
Outside investigator Janice Rubin interviewed 99 people over five months to prepare the report, which includes nine recommendations for the CBC and a litany of alleged transgressions by Ghomeshi that initially went unpunished.
The CBC fired Ghomeshi, the host of its daily radio arts and culture show “Q,” in October after seeing what it called “graphic evidence” that he had caused physical injury to a woman.
A majority of witnesses described a “a pattern of behaviour and conduct” that fell below the CBC’s standards and was “deeply disrespectful to employees,” including yelling, belittling and humiliating others, playing pranks and cruel jokes, and in a “small number of cases,” sexually harassing colleagues.
The report states a number of colleagues reported receiving back and shoulder massages from Ghomeshi.
“Most of the witnesses did not find these massages sexual (although several did) but instead described them as creepy and disrespectful of their personal boundaries,” according to the report, which also contains allegations that Ghomeshi made colleagues uncomfortable by speaking about his sex life in the workplace.
“There were incidents where Mr. Ghomeshi shared information that witnesses found too personal, too graphic and generally unsavoury,” the report states.
Ghomeshi’s lawyers were not immediately available to comment on the allegations in the report.
The report also contains allegations that managers who worked with Ghomeshi failed to investigate his behaviour or take steps to stop it.
“The evidence shows that while Mr. Ghomeshi’s star was allowed to rise, his problematic behaviour was left unchecked,” the report says.
“We saw no compelling evidence that Mr. Ghomeshi was ever told his behaviour would have to improve, or he would have to refrain from certain types of behaviour, or else face disciplinary action including termination. As a result, it is our view that management did not enforce the behavioural standard and failed to hold Mr. Ghomeshi accountable.”
The public broadcaster also announced Thursday that it is “severing ties” with two top executives, Chris Boyce, executive director of CBC Radio, and Todd Spencer, the head of human resources and industrial relations for English services.
Before Rubin’s report was ordered, Boyce and Spencer conducted interviews with “Q” employees as part of an internal investigation. The two were put on indefinite leave in January.
Rubin was tasked with reporting to senior CBC management about what she uncovered, as well as coming up with recommendations on resolving any complaints.
A request for Ghomeshi to be interviewed for the report was declined. In all, 17 people declined to be interviewed for the investigation. The report notes participation in interviews was “entirely voluntary” and investigators did not see it as their role to “aggressively cross-examine” anyone involved.
The CBC says it will be working with the Canadian Media Guild to review the nine recommendations outlined in the report and “implement as many of those as we can, as quickly as possible.”
Ghomeshi faces seven counts of sexual assault and one of overcoming resistance by choking, but his lawyer has said he will plead not guilty to all charges.
One of the complainants is a former CBC employee.
Ghomeshi is free on $100,000 bail with numerous conditions and is due to return to court on April 28.