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.

 

 

 

 

US shootings

News of two shootings in the US, one of Republican politicians.

Fox News:  Scalise shooter ID’d as James Hodgkinson

A gunman believed to be a supporter of former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sprayed a hail of bullets at a GOP baseball practice Wednesday morning, injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others before U.S. Capitol Police took down the rifle-wielding assailant.

The shooter, who had a violent history including arrests for battery, resisting arrest and drunken driving, was identified as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, of Illinois, Fox News confirmed. President Trump said Hodgkinson died from injuries sustained when he was shot by police.

It’s awful to see what appears to be a political shooting. Any mass attack is bad, targeting politicians (presuming they were specifically targeted) is terrible for democracy.

Bernie Sanders responded:

“I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign. I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

This is likely to spark debate (again) on US gun laws – for example why someone with a violent history was allowed access to firearms – and divisions in US politics.

Gezza has pointed out another shooting:  UPS says employee shoots, injures 4 at San Francisco delivery facility

 UPS employee opened fire at a San Francisco package delivery facility on Wednesday, injuring four and prompting a massive police response in a neighborhood near downtown, officials said.

UPS spokesman Steve Gaut told The Associated Press that an employee fired inside the facility before the drivers were sent out to do their normal daily deliveries. Gaut said four people were injured and that he believed the shooter “turned the gun on himself.”

Employee and ex-employee shootings seem to be common in the US, I saw of another in the news recently.

Earlier this month: Orlando shooting: ‘Disgruntled’ ex-employee had planned shooting, investigators say

The gunman who opened fire at an Orlando factory had planned to kill five of his former coworkers by singling them out and shooting them before turning the gun on himself, investigators confirmed on Tuesday.

Police had confronted Neumann once before at the factory, when he was accused of battering a co-worker in June 2014. The co-worker said Neumann punched him in the back of the head knocking him to the ground, according to the incident report. But the co-worker later said Neumann chased him and then hit him on the back of the head.

No charges were filed in the 2014 incident after both men were interviewed. The co-worker was not among Monday’s victims, Demings said. Aside from the 2014 incident, Neumann also had a criminal history “minor in nature,” with arrests for possession of marijuana and DUI.

Obviously the easy access to firearms is an issue in the US.

I think that the entertainment industry (‘Hollywood’ plus the gaming industry) also has some responsibility with the normalisation of violence and shooting as a way of ‘resolving’ many things.

The Gun Violence Archive keeps track of statistics. Summary to date for 2017:

  • Total number of incidents: 27,811
  • Number of deaths: 6,878
  • Number of injuries: 13,500
  • Mass shootings: 154
  • Defensive use: 939
  • Unintentional shooting: 915

It is spread across the country where there are people, but looks to be worst in the east:

Daily averages:

  • Incidents: 170 per day
  • Number of deaths: 42 per day
  • Number of injuries: 82 per day
  • Mass shootings: nearly 1 per day
  • Defensive use: 5 per day
  • Unintentional shooting: 5 per day

It is not just a law and order problem, it is also a societal problem.

Locking criminals up doesn’t solve the problem – United States incarceration rate

In October 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population.

While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.

This rate has climbed dramatically:

The US gun lobby seems to remain stronger than the public safety lobby.

The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world at about 88.8 per 100 citizens.

This is not a problem that will be easily solved. It is sad but inevitable that politicians will be included amongst the targets.

Beware the quiet ones

Sarah was in the fertilised egg business. She had several hundred young pullets and ten roosters to fertilize the eggs.

She kept records and any rooster not performing went into the soup pot and was replaced.

This took a lot of time, so she bought some tiny bells and attached them to her roosters. Each bell had a different tone, so she could tell from a distance which rooster was performing. Now, she could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report by just listening to the bells.

Sarah’s favourite rooster, old Butch, was a very fine specimen but, this morning she noticed old Butch’s bell hadn’t rung at all! When she went to investigate, she saw the other roosters were busy chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing, but the pullets hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover.

To Sarah’s amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn’t ring. He’d sneak up on a pullet, do his job, and walk on to the next one.

Sarah was so proud of old Butch, she entered him in a Show and he became an overnight sensation among the judges.

The result was the judges not only awarded old Butch the “No Bell Peace Prize” they also awarded him the “Pulletsurprise” as well.

Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making. Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the unsuspecting populace and screwing them when they weren’t paying attention?

Vote carefully in the next election. You can’t always hear the bells.

(I don’t know the source, someone sent this to me)

Are politicians and police covering up a very dirty not-very–secet?

I’ve just read a post at a blog with a record of breaking supression orders, so I won’t link to it.

It details a number of known facts, plus information that matches rumours I’ve heard, and additional detail.

It’s particulrly disturbing.

First I’ll say that if they are inaccurate then it’s awful for those named to be associated unfairly. That’s can be a risk of suppression of information of something that many people have an interest in and a determination to make public.

But it talks of erring MPs and political and police cover-ups that could be protecting their own.

And it talks of sexual assault against children.

If true this is extremely serious. And it needs to be dealt with. If those who should won’t deal with it then it’s up to others to make it impossible for them not to.

Cunliffe’s calamity

As soon as I heard a report of Cunliffe saying sorry for being a man I thought it would would be bad for him. And that’s how it is looking. While some have praised him for “speaking bravely” many many people, both men and women, have reacted negatively. Some very negatively.

Cunliffe has gaffed too much already, but this could be the gaffe to top all gaffes. It could be a calamity for his leadership. People don’t respect apologetic wimps.

He obviously doesn’t under stand the violence debate well. Neither do those who have advised him on this approach.

Sure some would have thought it was a great approach, especially for a women’s refuge audience. But his speech was also aimed at a much wider audience. It was a major policy launch.

But there was no way an apology like that, whether staged or authentic, was going to go down well with many people. Men and women.

One problem is that people want party leaders to be strong and confident. Saying you are sorry for being what you are portrays the opposite.

Another problem is that this feeds into the image of the Labour party being dominated by women. By targeting the opening of his speech very clearly at a very feminine (and feminist) audience reinforces this.

But the biggest problem by far is that stating he is sorry for being a man in general terms implies that he thinks he is to blame for male violence, and that he thinks all men are to blame for violence.

That implication really really gets up the nose of many men. Especially men who abhor violence and would do anything they can to confront and reduce the violence in our society. Men like me.

Men who are proud to be what they are and who they are.

And the reaction from some women has been very negative as well. From a fundamental level of not respecting apologetic theatrics. And on a more common sense and practical level.

Deborah Morris-Travers of children’s lobby group Every Child Counts said:

‘‘One of the solutions to family violence is having all men healthy, educated, feeling good about being parents, feeling supported and engaged in their community and having a strong identity – not apologising for being male.’’

We need strong leadership to address appalling violence in our society. We need strong male role models.

The Cunliffe of yesterdays speech is not someone many people can look up to. They don’t just see his comment as wrong, they feel insulted.

This isn’t superficial tribal politics. It goes much deeper and personal. It questions the decency of all men.

So far Cunliffe has stood by his comment. It’s difficult to see how he can repair the damage and recover any respect he may have had with many people.

This could be Cunliffe’s clinching calamity.

We may now see this excuse for a man limp to an election lashing.

Someone else will have to lead the campaign against violence. Someone who can stand tall and can be respected.