Marcel Aubut resigns as COC head after sexual harassment allegations
Published Friday, October 2, 2015 4:46PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 3, 2015 10:01PM EDT
The Canadian Olympic Committee says it has accepted Marcel Aubut's resignation following sexual harassment allegations by three women, including a staffer.
CTV News learned Friday that Aubut planned to resign from his position as head of the COC.
In a statement released Saturday, Aubut said he is stepping down in light of allegations "by people who accuse me of intentions that I never had."
"Although I assume full responsibility for my effusive and demonstrative personality, I would like to reiterate that I never intended to offend or upset anyone with my remarks or my behaviour," he said in the statement.
Aubut temporarily stepped aside as president of the committee and chairman of the Canadian Olympic Foundation late Wednesday after the sexual harassment allegations came to light. But on Saturday, he announced his official resignation.
"Unfortunately, the current situation is a major distraction that obscures the COC's real goals, especially with the Rio Games fast approaching," he said. "For these reasons, I announce today that I am stepping down as president of the Canadian Olympic Committee."
In light of Aubut's resignation, the COC said Saturday that an investigation into the original harassment allegation by a female staffer, led by Justice Francois Rolland, will cease.
However, an "independent third party process investigating any other complaints will continue uninterrupted."
Two other women have also come forward with allegations since the initial complaint was lodged.
The allegations against him have not been proven and none of the women have gone to the police.
"The events of the past week are deeply concerning to us," the COC statement said. "They have had a profound impact on our Olympic family. The COC has clear policies that include measures to address harassment of any kind in the workplace."
Montreal lawyer Amelia Salehabadi-Fouques and another woman came forward after a female employee of the COC’s foundation lodged a formal complaint against Aubut.
Salehabadi-Fouques says four years ago, Aubut forced a kissed on her after a business meeting.
“I was so shocked because he kissed me,” Salehabadi-Fouques told CTV News on Saturday. “It was outside the restaurant (and) we were walking out.”
Salehabadi-Fouques, who specializes in sports law, has been a board member of the Canadian Soccer Association since 2013.
In another incident Salehabadi-Fouques claimed happened last year, Aubut allegedly asked a lewd question in front her teenage son at a soccer game.
She said Aubut asked her, “When are you going to sleep with me?”
Salehabadi-Fouques said she pretended not hear the question but her son said, “Did you hear what I heard?”
Another woman, who has not been publicly identified, has also made allegations of incidents involving Aubut. The woman, who use to work closely with the former COC president, made the allegations during a TVA interview that aired Thursday.
Salehabadi-Fouques has launched a complaint against Aubut with the Quebec bar.
According to a CTV News source, Aubut, a prominent Quebec City lawyer, intends to return to his legal practice.
In his statement on Saturday, Aubut apologized for any behaviour that may have come across as inappropriate.
"I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to those who may have been offended by my behaviour. I realize that my attitude could at times be perceived as questionable by some women and could have caused them to feel uncomfortable," he said. "I acknowledge this and will adjust my behaviour accordingly."
Asked about Aubut’s apology, Salehabadi-Fouques said it was not enough.
“I’m still waiting for him to recognize the facts because it’s very nice to say that he’s sorry but he’s sorry for what exactly?” she said.
Aubut, 67, had been a member of the COC since 2000.
The COC announced late Saturday that Tricia Smith, a four-time Olympian, lawyer, and businesswoman, will serve as the interim president.
With files from CTV News’ Janet Dirks and The Canadian Press