May 2, 2018 5:42 pm

Loyalist Township councillor reprimanded after 20 allegations of misconduct

Duncan Ashley, a long-time councillor for Loyalist Township, faced a reprimand in council on April 16 due to 20 allegations of misconduct from colleagues and councillors.

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Loyalist Township Coun. Duncan Ashley, a member of the Loyalist Township council since 1998, was publicly reprimanded by the Township’s council following a report that alleges he has been bullying, harassing and sexually harassing colleagues.

On April 16, the council reviewed the report from John Curtis, a lawyer and mediator hired to investigate the allegations made against the councillor, during a closed session.

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In the meeting’s minutes, the council calls Ashley’s behaviour “threatening and aggressive, as well as demeaning and belittling.”

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According to a statement from the Township’s mayor Bill Lowry:

“The report confirmed that Councilor Ashley’s conduct constituted harassment.”

Lowry, along with every other member of council, was contacted for comment. All but the mayor refused, and Lowry himself would not comment past a written statement.

Several attempts were made to contact both Ashley and Curtis, but neither responded to multiple requests for comment.

Nevertheless, the Loyalist Township council made their resolution against Ashley public under the minutes of the April 23 council meeting, and Curtis’ investigative report can be accessed through the Township’s clerk.

The report is a result of an investigation that began in November 2017, and was presented to council members on April 6. For the report, Curtis interviewed nine different council members and employees who together listed 20 allegations against the longtime councillor.

GALLERY: Allegations taken from John Curtis’ report on Duncan Ashley

Curtis’ report speaks to multiple incidents of alleged harassment, one claim of sexual harassment and of a “passive-aggressive attitude” that poisoned the work environment. The report states proof for three of these allegations can be found in two voicemails and one email reviewed by Curtis.

Although it is unclear how many of the allegations were decided to be founded, the April 16 meeting minutes only specifically references the alleged sexual harassment.

“He was also found to have sexually harassed, by instigating offensive and vulgar conversation related to gender,” the minutes read. “This behaviour has been in person and also over the telephone and in written email correspondence.”

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At the end of the report, Curtis writes that Ashley responded to him in an email on March 29 of this year. Curtis claims in the report that Ashley said he did not consider the Loyalist Township as a workplace, so this is why he did not follow the Township’s code of conduct.

For Curtis, that was not an appropriate excuse for Ashley’s alleged behaviour.

At the end of John Curtis’ report on the allegations against Duncan Ashley, Curtis notes that he does not believe the councillor to be remorseful.

John Curtis

“Decent people don’t need these rules to be written down or to study them carefully in order to follow them,” Curtis wrote at the end of the report. “Deep down he does not believe he has done anything wrong.”

Ashley was suspended for 90 days from his duties on council, is barred from contacting anyone at the council during this period and must attend training pertaining to the areas of alleged misconduct.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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