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Ottawa councillor Rick Chiarelli speaks to allegations of sexual misconduct

Ottawa city council has deferred its decision on Cumberland Ward's vacant seat. Beatrice Britneff / Global News File

College Ward Coun. Rick Chiarelli released a statement on Thursday in defense of recent allegations of sexual misconduct towards female employees and perspective employees.

In the statement, Chiarelli says he finds the suggestion that his request for medical leave – heard at the last city council meeting – is disingenuous or opportunistic to be “troubling.” Council tabled the request to a later date citing a need for further information.

“This situation has reached a level of seriousness, and has adopted what I can only describe as an apparent ‘mob-mentality’ approach to the inaccurate characterization of past events, where I need to write this to step forward and defend my good name, reputation, and three decades of public service, irrespective of any potential adverse health consequences,” said Chiarelli in the statement.

READ MORE: Mayor, councillors release statements on Chiarelli allegations

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He also outright denies that he has treated any member of his staff or any potential candidate in a sexually harassing, discriminatory or inappropriate fashion.

In his statement, Chiarelli points to what he believes is a conspiracy by a fellow unnamed member of council, in what he believes is retaliation for a freedom of information request related to the procurement process of LRT.

“People should know that I formally retained legal counsel in July of this year, after learning that I was being targeted over my attempts to bring greater transparency to the LRT procurement process,” said Chiarelli.

“We were made aware of one of my political adversaries attempting to persuade a number of women to join an organized group to speak negatively about me.”

“Those spoken to definitely included some who have made public complaints in the media,” he stated.

Chiarelli also said, according to his lawyer, the scope of these allegations fall outside the expertise of the integrity commissioner and should instead be brought to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

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“Given the clear language of the Code of Conduct, it is very difficult to understand the concerted and coordinated push to have these matters determined by a process that is secretive and virtually untested, by an official who, while an expert in many areas, clearly does not possess the specialized human rights expertise possessed by members of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario,” said Chiarelli.

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Chiarelli ends his statement by lamenting the outcry from the public and his fellow councillors against him even though the allegations have yet to be proven true.

“It appears that we have reached a point where today all that is needed is a series of copy-cat scandalous allegations to cause a politically-correct rush to judgement, and the decimation of a 30-year political career, without any critical testing of evidence,” said Chiarelli.

“It appears that many of my colleagues and peers place short-term political popularity ahead of the presumption of innocence.”

In statements released last week, Mayor Jim Watson and councillors Kavanagh, Menard, Lieper and McKenney spoke to the allegations against Chiarelli saying they were “disappointed,” with three of the councillors calling for Chiarelli to resign.

“To say that we are disturbed to hear the latest allegations regarding Councillor Chiarelli would be a gross understatement,” said Watson in the statement. “There are really no words to describe our disappointment.”

The integrity commissioner is unable to confirm an investigation into the allegations citing privacy reasons though when asked for comment, Mayor Jim Watson said he is unable to comment on a case that is currently before the city’s integrity commissioner.

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