Colin Craig guilty of moderately serious sexual harassment

Another court has found Colin Craig guilty of sexual harassment of his ex-Conservative party assistant Rachel MacGregor.

Justice Toogood: “the seriousness of the harassment is aggravated by its origins in an abuse of power in a workplace relationship. I assess the sexual harassment as moderately serious.”

Craig continues to deny that de sexually harassed MacGregor. From NZH: Judge rules Cameron Slater defamed Colin Craig who sexually harassed Rachel MacGregor

In a statement, Craig said he was “pleased but not surprised” by the court’s decision.

But he also maintained he had not sexually harassed anyone.

“I was disappointed by a finding that I had done so on two occasions,” he said.

Craig had written poems and letters to MacGregor, which he claimed were received with positive responses at the time.

“This is a perplexing outcome,” Craig said.

“If someone tells you it’s a great letter and they are re-reading and re-reading it, I think a normal person would consider the letter welcomed.”

I find it perplexing that Craig cannot understand or accept what he has done. He was in a party leader/employer position of unequal power and abused that.

From Justice Toogood’s SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS AND DECISIONS:

[17] For the reasons set out below, I have found that:

(a) It is not established that Mr Craig was guilty of sexual harassment of Ms MacGregor up to and including the incident on election night 2011 when there was intimacy between them, because I am not satisfied that Mr Craig’s behaviour was unwanted by Ms MacGregor at that time.

(b) It is true that Mr Craig was guilty of moderately serious sexual harassment of Ms MacGregor, on multiple occasions from early 2012 to 2014 by telling her that he remained romantically inclined and sexually attracted to her, and that those expressions of his views were not welcomed by Ms MacGregor at the time they were communicated to her. Ms MacGregor chose not to complain about the harassment because of her concern about the effect of a complaint on her
employment.

(c) The imputation that Mr Craig sent “dirty text messages” to Ms MacGregor is not strictly true, but it is materially true in substance in that he sexually harassed Ms MacGregor by communicating to her sexually oriented written messages between early 2012 and 2014 that were unwelcome.

(d) The imputation that Mr Craig sexually harassed Ms MacGregor so seriously that he settled the sexual harassment claim by paying her a six-figure sum of money is not strictly true, but it is materially true in substance in that he provided Ms MacGregor with a substantial financial benefit in exchange for her agreeing she would not pursue a justifiable claim that Mr Craig had been guilty of moderately serious sexual harassment.

[455] I infer from the timing of Ms MacGregor’s submission of the sexual harassment complaint to the Human Rights Commission on the day of her resignation that her distaste for Mr Craig’s sexual overtures was both genuine and an operative factor in her decision to resign when she did. I do not accept that the formal complaint to the Commission was contrived as a device to give her leverage in inevitable negotiations over a settlement of her pay claims

[457] Mr Craig’s continuing indications after 2011 that he retained a romantic interest and sexual attraction were unwanted by Ms MacGregor and wrong. I have found that Ms MacGregor chose not to complain about the harassment because of concern about the effect of a complaint on her employment. Although the manner of the harassment was not at the higher end of the scale of seriousness, it had serious consequences for Ms MacGregor in that it was an operative factor in the loss of her job, and Mr Craig’s post-resignation behaviour aggravated the harm she suffered.

Moreover, as I have held, the seriousness of the harassment is aggravated by its origins in an abuse of power in a workplace relationship. I assess the sexual harassment as moderately serious.

[459] It is proper and reasonable to infer that the overall financial settlement, including the benefits that that were not related to her pay claim, influenced Ms MacGregor’s decision to withdraw her sexual harassment claim. I accept her evidence that she would not have settled the sexual harassment claim without also resolving her pay claim and the issue of her debt to Mr and Mrs Craig. That means that, although no payment directly related to the sexual harassment claim was made, Mr Craig made a substantial financial settlement with Ms MacGregor in exchange for the withdrawal of her sexual harassment claim to the Human Rights Commission

The statement that Mr Craig paid Ms MacGregor a six-figure sum is not true, but the material element of the allegation – the sting – is that Mr Craig provided Ms MacGregor with a substantial financial benefit in exchange for her not pursuing a justifiable claim that he had been guilty of sexual harassment. The  potentially damaging aspects were the inference that serious sexual harassment had occurred and the inference, available from his agreement to a financial settlement, that Mr Craig acknowledged the complaint was well-founded. I have found that, in fact, the harassment was moderately serious.

[460] Taking the statement as a whole, I am satisfied that it has been proved that the third imputation, in substance, was not materially different from the truth in substance in that Mr Craig provided Ms MacGregor with a substantial financial benefit in exchange for her agreeing she would not pursue a justifiable claim that he had been guilty of moderately serious sexual harassment.

[520] For the reasons given in relation to Publication 1, I find:

(a) The imputation that Mr Craig sexually harassed Ms MacGregor is true.

(b) The imputation that he sexually harassed her so seriously that he settled her sexual harassment claim by paying her a large sum of money many tens of thousands of dollars more than what he had told the board of the Conservative Party he paid her, was materially true in substance. Mr Craig provided Ms MacGregor with a substantial financial benefit in exchange for her not pursuing a justifiable claim that Mr Craig had been guilty of moderately serious sexual harassment and misled the board intentionally about the true nature of his behaviour with and towards Ms MacGregor, the foundation and merits of Ms MacGregor’s allegations against him, and the true nature of the settlement with her.

(c) The imputation that Mr Craig sent Ms MacGregor numerous sexually explicit text messages, which were unsolicited and a form of sexual harassment is materially true in substance, in that he sexually harassed Ms MacGregor by communicating to her sexually oriented written messages that were unwelcome.

So that is a fairly comprehensive finding of sexual harassment as an employer.

Alison Mau (Stuff):  Colin Craig defamation case breaks new ground for victims of sexual harassment

In his ruling as to whether blogger Cameron Slater defamed Craig, Justice Toogood found that Craig certainly did sexually harass MacGregor – but his decision could have far greater impact for many more people than just Craig, MacGregor, Slater and the number of others Craig has sued over this sorry mess.

Justice Toogood is saying that if, as an employer, you think you can go around doing the kind of stuff Craig did to MacGregor, the court will assume it’s unwelcome. That will be the baseline assumption.

Instead of the victim having to prove your attention was unwelcome, you will have to prove that it was not.

That is, of course, simplifying things – Justice Toogood’s decision is hundreds of pages long and makes for difficult reading at times, particularly if you’re squeamish or easily embarrassed. It describes a murky situation where lines were crossed by both players at one point, and where Craig’s attention was welcomed before election day 2011 – but not afterwards.

It acknowledges the complexity of the situation, yet finds MacGregor was harassed, and has since been dragged through the courts against her will on multiple occasions.

More importantly (no offence to MacGregor), the judgment makes some powerful statements about how the courts will view sexual harassment in the future. This should give New Zealand women a tiny warm glow in the midst of the scorched-earth landscape in which survivors of sexual harassment are often left.

It talks about the power imbalance – Craig as the wealthy employer and MacGregor  as the much younger employee – and how it’s reasonable to infer the sexual conduct or language was unwelcome, “whether the complainant objected at the time of the alleged harassment or not”.

It says that as an employer, Craig should have known “that the appropriate course for him to follow was not merely to reassure her that her job was safe notwithstanding what had occurred. He ought to have assured Ms MacGregor that he also recognised that it was inappropriate for him to give any form of expression to being sexually attracted to her and thereafter to refrain from any communication or conduct of that kind”.

It answers that old chestnut, “why didn’t she complain before now?” Justice Toogood accepts MacGregor could not have been expected to do that, as she feared for her job.

This should be noted as a warning to employers and others (like politicians) in positions of relative power. It applies to both males and females.

 

 

 

 

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11 Comments

  1. duperez

     /  October 26, 2018

    The thousands of hours, the years, the mountains of expertise, the millions of words yet if Colin Craig had said “Yes,” when Rachel MacGregor had asked, “Can I have a raise in pay?” ……..😶

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  October 26, 2018

      She gave him massages, sent gushing text messages, certainly seems to have given him the message that she thought that he was wonderful.

      It’s a message to everyone to keep your distance and keep a relationship on a professional level.

      Reply
  2. Bill Brown

     /  October 26, 2018

    A conservative man
    A family man
    A religious man

    A sexual harasser

    Here ends the story we hope

    Reply
  3. Ray

     /  October 26, 2018

    A creep.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  October 26, 2018

      Plus, something not quite right in the head there I truly believe.

      Reply
      • Bill Brown

         /  October 26, 2018

        Certainly a very strange way about wanting to be a public figure who could be trusted in govt.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  October 26, 2018

          Well, exactly. And to keep on keeping it in the public mind and refreshing people’s memories is bizarre. I can’t think of any otherwise normal person who’d done something silly they should be embarrassed about & regretting who would be this obsessive. By now it would otherwise have been largely forgotten by most people – although he can rule out expecting to ever get many votes if he stood as a candidate for either local or central government. It would always come back to haunt him.

          Reply
      • High Flying Duck

         /  October 26, 2018

        Just an awkward conservative man who had feelings for someone who wasn’t his wife.
        The problem is he has money and thinks he can spend it to resurrect his reputation, completely oblivious to the fact it is only entrenching people’s views of him.
        He may also have had an unfortunate delusion of being something of a pin-up figure based on the iconic “Reclining in field” work, and the equally canonical “interview in a Sauna”.

        Reply
  4. Zedd

     /  October 26, 2018

    Crazy CRAZY Colin; just the sort of right-wing political partner.. Natl needs ? 😀

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  October 26, 2018

      Ironically, yes. The Conservative vote will grow, especially given the government has been advised to revise the abortion law to a ”medical condition” status. Of course that is utter bullshit, so Conservatives will be looking for a political party to fight that.

      Don’t forget, Zedd, Craig came close to entering parliament.

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  October 26, 2018

        He might get in next time round and be given to Judith to be looked after. 🙃

        Reply

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