Steve Paikin Says Sexual Harassment Claim Is ‘Complete Fiction’
The TVO host says former Toronto mayoral Candidate Sarah Thomson defamed him.
TV host Steve Paikin, who is being investigated for sexual harassment by his network, has called the claims against him "100 percent false."In an extensive Facebook post, seemingly called “My Turn,” the TVO anchor refutes the claims that he once asked a mayoral candidate to sleep with him as payment for an appearance on his show. In doing so he says he’s beginning to “to reclaim [his] reputation and fight back against these scurrilous allegations” calling the claims “complete fiction.”
“To be clear, I did not have sex, suggest, request, imply, or joke about having sex with you,” reads his post.
Paikin is referring to allegations that were made by Sarah Thomson, a politician who has run several losing but headline grabbing campaigns for the mayoralty of Toronto. Thomson, who did not name Paikin directly, originally laid out her claims on her website, Women’s Post on Friday. In her story entitled “Media personality uses his position to gain sex” she said the incident in question occurred in 2010 when Thomson, Paikin, and Thomson’s assistant met for lunch.
“Not five minutes into the lunch the host asked me if I would sleep with him. My assistant almost spit his drink all over the table. I politely told the host that I loved my husband and would never do that. I then excused myself, went to the washroom and called my campaign manager,” reads her account.
Thomson also alleged that Paikin, in the years since the initial incident, approached her “several times, usually at political functions, to suggest we 'sleep together' and he always laughs about it.”
Paikin said that he first heard of the allegations against himself in an email from Thomson which he immediately forwarded to TVO. In response to the allegations, TVO hired a third-party investigator to look into the claims but allowed Paikin to remain in as the anchor of his popular show The Agenda. In response, TVO’s CEO Lisa de Wilde released a statement outlining the networks response, saying “based on the evidence to date, TVO sees no reason to remove Mr. Paikin from his role as Host for The Agenda pending the outcome of the investigation.”
The initial story hit the media on Monday and Paikin kept relatively quiet on the subject. That changed mid-day Tuesday when he posted a lengthy Facebook post outlining his version of events. In the post Paikin tells his readers that it is written by him not “a committee of lawyers or spin doctors at 4 o’clock this morning.”
“This past Saturday afternoon, I received an email from Sarah Thomson,” reads the post. “I’ve known Ms Thomson for almost a decade, having covered her municipal and provincial political campaigns and seen her at various political events over the years, although I don’t believe I’ve seen or had any contact from her in several years.
“To say I was gobsmacked by the allegations in her email is the understatement of my life. Even though I knew the allegations were 100% false, I did what I suspected was the appropriate thing to do and immediately passed the email on to my superiors at TVO. I knew the charges were bogus but I knew I owed it to my employer to be totally transparent about all of it.”
Paikin said that he welcomes his network’s investigation and spent two hours this weekend being grilled by their lawyers. He adds that he understands the importance of allegations like this, especially during the ongoing #metoo movement.
In 2013, Thomson raised complaints that she was sexual harrassed and groped by then mayor Rob Ford who she claimed drunkenly “grabbed [her] ass.” She claimed that, at the same function, he also told her she should be with him in Florida because his wife was away.
The post, which Paikin said he wrote at 4 AM after trouble sleeping, ended with a rather dramatic flair.
“You’ve defamed me Sarah. I have no idea why, but you have. And I simply can’t allow that to stand. The quest to reclaim my reputation, which you’ve tried to destroy, begins now. I look forward to vindication.”
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