As It Happens

Ontario high school named after political aide Michel Gratton shocked by accusations

Today, a director at a Franco-Ontarian school board learned of sexual assault and harassment allegations against the namesake for one of her high schools, École secondaire Michel-Gratton....

Today, a director at a Franco-Ontarian school board learned of sexual assault and harassment allegations against the namesake for one of her high schools, École secondaire Michel-Gratton.

As It Happens had some disturbing news for Gyslaine Hunter-Perrault from last night's show.

Hunter-Perrault is the director of education for Conseil scolaire Viamonde, the Franco-Ontarian school board. One of its schools in Windsor is named after the late Michel Gratton, who served as Press Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office of Brian Mulroney. Now, the school Board is reviewing that decision.

Last night, Carol talked to two former journalists about Gratton's unwanted sexual advances. Kathryn Young, a reporter with Canadian Press at the time, described one frightening incident in 1985.

And a warning, this description may be disturbing to some people.

"All of a sudden, he just leaped on top of me, and he ripped my shirt open, and he had his hands down my shirt," Young said. "I thought, 'This is it, I'm going to be raped.' That's all that flashed through my mind, was that this is my time, I'm going to be raped.

"And I fought back. I turned my head from side to side, trying to get him to stop kissing me, trying to push him off me. And I was yelling No! No!"

Young said Gratton finally got off her, and when she demanded he leave, he did.

She never reported the incident to police, but it was eventually reported by the media, and Gratton publicly apologized.

It was news, however, to Hunter-Perrault from the Franco-Ontario school board.

"We were all astounded to find out what was revealed by your program," she told Carol. Hunter-Perrault said the community was in a state of "shock" and "taken by surprise." She says these allegations will be taken to school board members where they "will decide the next action."

Hunter-Perrault says she spoke with Gratton's brother today, Francois. He is the trustee for École secondaire Michel-Gratton. She said Francois Gratton is "surprised that the facts would surface at this time."

The board announced the school would be named after Gratton in early 2011. Hunter-Perreault said it was in honour of "all the work he did for the francophone community." Despite many media reports, she said the board had no idea Gratton was forced to publicly apologize to three women in 1986 for, what was described at the time, as "unbecoming" conduct.

Besides Young's allegations against Gratton, former CBC Radio host Judy Morrison said she was harassed by the press secretary. The third woman has never gone public.

None of the women went to police and no charges were ever laid against Gratton. He resigned four months after the incidents became public, saying the media attention on him "really did me in."

Hear tonight's interview by clicking on the "Listen" tab. You can also hear our feature interview with Kathryn Young and Judy Morrison here.


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