Sexual harassment investigation report illustrates power struggle at Warner Hockey School
WARNING: This story contains sexual content. Discretion is advised.
An investigation report into Southern Alberta’s Warner Hockey School shows a power struggle at the school and substantiates three sexual harassment claims from former players and coaches against Horizon School Board trustee Derek Baron.
Baron denies the allegations in the report.
The report, obtained by Global News on Friday, is 83 pages long and was released March 3, 2016.
The investigation was conducted by Dev Chankasingh, who works with labour employment and administrative law.
The report speaks directly to many of the harassment claims, including one that assistant coach Naomi Meier said she witnessed.
“Derek had been in the residence and had asked them why they were awake earlier than the rest of the girls,” Meier said. “And they said, ‘oh we just couldn’t sleep’ and he’s like, ‘oh the other girls’ vibrators are probably just better than yours.’”
The investigation report indicates Chankasingh found the claim has been substantiated.
“This comment was of a sexual nature and amounts to sexual harassment under the policy.”
Baron denied the allegations in the report.
“I can’t recall that. I would never do that. I treat them as my daughters.”
Despite his denial, the report substantiates two other sexual harassment claims made towards Baron.
In his recommendations, which the Horizon School Division followed through with, Chankasingh wrote:
- Derek should not be allowed access to the residence.
- Derek should not be allowed to have any interaction with the students of the WHS or with [coach] Lotta [Haarala] and Naomi.
The report also depicts a power struggle between coaches and the school division.
Complaints made by assistant coaches Meier and Haaralla, along with Warner Hockey School cook Janice Makela, were what spurred the board to hire Chankasingh to investigate.
In total, there were 27 allegations made against Horizon School Division superintendent Wilco Tymensen, Warner School principal David LeGrandeur, associate superintendent Clark Bosch and Baron.
The three substantiated claims were sexual harassment under the Horizon School Division policy against Baron.
Chankasingh had no finding on one of the remaining allegations and found 23 to be unsubstantiated.
Much of what is in the report points to a power struggle between the hockey staff and the school division, including an incident where a player swore at head coach Mikko Makela.
According to the report, the assistant coaches felt the player should be expelled, while Tymensen, LeGrandeur and Bosch all stated that only the board has the authority to expel a student.
In Chankasingh’s overall conclusion, he states that in looking at the 23 unsubstantiated accusations:
“It is quite obvious that the three complainants acted in concert in filing their complaints… I am of the view that they did this in order to get Wilco, David and Clark removed from their positions.”
“Given my finding that the complaints by Naomi, Janice, and Lotta against David, Wilco, and Clark were not made in good faith and were filed for an ulterior motive Horizon should consult with legal counsel to determine whether their contracts can be terminated…”
Meier maintains the allegations she made in the report are true.
“I just wanted to stand up for what was right,” she said. “I know that I’m right, so I can sleep at night and be happy for standing up for those girls and myself and I’m going to keep doing that until the truth is found.”
Horizon School Division followed through with Chankasingh’s recommendation, firing the hockey staff on March 9, 2016.
Principal LeGrandeur feels exonerated by the report’s findings.
“All claims that were made at the time they were made, they were false,” LeGrendeur said. “They were proven to be unsubstantiated and that’s all I have to say about it.”
Global News spoke with Janice Makela, who says she stands by her allegations.
Global News also reached out to Wilco Tymensen, Clark Bosch, and Lotta Haarala, all of whom declined interviews. Global News also tried to contact Derek Baron for comment, but did not hear back.
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.