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TVO’s Steve Paikin says sexual harassment allegation is ‘complete fiction’

TVO host Steve Paikin, (left), faces sexual harassment allegations from former Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson, (right).
TVO host Steve Paikin, (left), faces sexual harassment allegations from former Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson, (right). FILE

TVO’s Steve Paikin is speaking out following claims of sexual harassment connected to former Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson, saying there’s “not a shred of truth” to the allegation.

“I’ve spent 35 years building my reputation. In one fell swoop, these lies have prompted outrageous headlines and connected me to a story to which I have no business being connected,” he stated in a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon.

READ MORE: TVO host Steve Paikin faces sexual harassment allegations from Sarah Thomson

Paikin remains on the job as host of The Agenda after TVO Chief Executive Officer Lisa de Wilde announced Monday the broadcaster would appoint a third party to investigate the matter.

Paikin said he was sent an email from Thomson on Saturday and forwarded it to his superiors at TVO.

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Thomson, publisher of the Women’s Post, posted an article online Friday saying an unnamed TV host asked if he could sleep with her during a lunch in 2010 while she was running for mayor.

READ MORE: Q&A with Steve Paikin on the U.S. presidential debate

“My assistant and I met him at Grano’s on Yonge Street, and the three of us ordered our lunch. Not five minutes into the lunch the host asked me if I would sleep with him,” Thomson wrote.

“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.”

The article called for the host to step down from his job.

READ MORE: Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson remixes ‘Timber’

Paikin said he was grilled by TVO lawyers and management for two hours the day after he received Thomson’s email.

“To my delight, TVO has left me in the anchor chair of The Agenda,” Paikin said on Facebook. “I appreciate that vote of confidence.”

On Monday, De Wilde had said that TVO has kept Paikin in his role based on the evidence to date.

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Thomson has addressed the matter on Twitter, saying that she did not publicly name Paikin and has refused interview requests.

After Paikin’s post went live on Tuesday, Thomson responded to a supporter on Twitter.

“Thank you – please send more strength my way. He has a big stage and is using it.”

Thomson ran for the mayor’s office in 2010 and 2014 and later withdrew both contests. She was nominated for the Ontario Liberal Party candidate for the riding of Trinity-Spadina in 2011 but placed second.

Following her withdrawal from the 2014 mayoral election, she registered to run as councillor for Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina but placed third to winner Joe Cressy.

Paikin is a journalist and began working for TVO in 1992. He has hosted a number of shows for the station including Between the LinesFourth Reading and Studio 2. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in December 2013.

— With files from David Shum