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Police briefed on sexual harassment claims at HMC

Published:Thursday | September 5, 2019 | 12:13 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

Three weeks after The Gleaner revealed alleged cases of sexual harassment at the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC), the police in the western parish have confirmed that the matter has been brought to their attention by the corporation, but to date, they have not had reports of any complaints.

“I received a document from the CEO (David Gardener) outlining that the HMC was conducting an internal investigation into incidents of alleged sexual harassment, but no further details were provided,” said Superintendent Sharon Beeput, the commanding officer for the parish.

“None of the alleged complainants have filed any reports.”

When The Gleaner spoke to Gardener about the allegations yesterday, he confirmed that he had provided the police with information from the corporation’s probe and invited the police to look into the matter.

“We are still doing an investigation into the matter. We suspect, really, that it is not as was reported, but we are doing an investigation, and until such time, I am not able to say anything further,” said Gardener.

Sexual advances by male supervisor

The Gleaner has obtained copies of three of the four signed statements the complaining female employees provided on request to the HMC in which they pointed fingers at a male supervisor employed to the corporation.

In one of the reports, the complainant said that the accused supervisor got into her personal space and made sexual advances towards her.

“He came in the office one morning to ask why he was not seeing my panty line and to enquire whether or not I was wearing any underwear.

“He also asks for kisses when he comes into the office. I can remember one particular day, he was hovering over me while doing so, and, as such, I found myself in a tug of war,” she wrote.

“One particular morning, while he was on his regular pursuit, I started listing his offences on a sheet of blank paper and told him I was going to report him for sexual harassment in the workplace. His response was to ask if I didn’t want my family to find me or for me to turn up at sea,” the complainant added.

When contacted, Lucea Mayor Sheridan Samuels, who is also chairman of the HMC, told The Gleaner that the matter of sexual harassment was very serious and that the allegations were being investigated. He pointed out that the matter is being dealt with by the administrative arm of the HMC as the policymakers await the results of the investigations.