Sexual harassment complaint against former Yukon Speaker 'closed'
'The parties consider this matter closed and wish to move on,' says Human Rights Commission
Former Speaker of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, David Laxton, and the woman who accused him of sexual harassment last spring have reached "a mutually satisfactory agreement", according to the Yukon Human Rights Commission.
The Commission issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon declaring the matter — which ended Laxton's tenure as Speaker and possibly his political career — "closed", but offering no details about the nature of the "agreement."
Laxton abruptly stepped down as Speaker in May, saying his decision was prompted by the allegation of sexual harassment. He also left the governing Yukon Party caucus to sit as an independent MLA, and was subsequently dumped by the party as a candidate in the next election.
"The allegation involves an incident during business hours, whereby I hugged and kissed a long time acquaintance when she was leaving my office, which was intended as a friendly gesture," Laxton said in a statement at the time.
The woman, Michelle Stimson of Whitehorse, has not publicly spoken about what happened. It isn't clear whether she made a formal complaint to anyone, or sought any redress.
The Commission will not confirm who brought the matter to its attention, or what the nature of its intervention was, saying only that its mandate includes "resolving disputes of this nature."
"The parties felt that the expertise and assistance of the Commission was invaluable in allowing them to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement," the Commission's statement reads.
"You know, I really feel that both parties engaged in our human rights process respectfully, openly, and in good faith. I'm glad that the result was satisfactory to everybody involved," said Jessica Lott Thompson, the Commission's director.
'A profound learning experience' says Laxton
The Commission's statement on Wednesday included an apology from Laxton.
"This process has been a profound learning experience for me. I sincerely apologize for any harm or distress that my conduct has caused [Stimson]. I am sorry," he's quoted as saying.
Stimson is also quoted, saying she also considers the matter "closed."
"I am satisfied with this process and the resolution, and I know my fellow Yukoners will respect this. I am moving on with my life. I will not be making any further comment," she said.
The Commission's statement also points to a potential problem for Yukon politicians — the lack of a written policy for MLAs on how to handle allegations of sexual harassment.
"That should change," the statement says.
With files from Cheryl Kawaja