A Regina non-profit organization that works with marginalized youth has launched an external investigation following sexual harassment allegations against its former executive director.
Street Culture Project Inc. issued a stated on Facebook on Thursday saying “a third-party investigation is underway.”
According to Kim Sutherland, CEO and founder of Street Culture Project, the investigator is a lawyer that has 20 years’ experience doing workplace harassment investigations.
“I’m fixating 100 per cent on the process being launched to make this place the safest place possible.”
On Wednesday, allegations against an employee at Street Culture Project surfaced on the Survivor’s Stories Regina Instagram page, which shares survivor stories of women who claim they have been sexually harassed or assaulted.
“This was a unique one because the complaint (came) through a social media process that was anonymous. It made it difficult but it didn’t in any way minimize that the victims are there, and we need to hear from them,” Sutherland said.
“We’re really thankful they stepped forward, and to respect that courage and bravery, the least we can do is match their time.”
The anonymous poster said they dealt with “near-daily sexual harassment” while working for the organization, including from someone they claimed was “my serial sexual harasser.”
A day later, executive director Dustin Browne commented on the Instagram post from his personal social media account, outing himself as the alleged accused, and apologizing to any victims. He has since resigned after being suspended by Street Culture Project.
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“I acknowledge that I have taken for granted that the power and privilege I have been afforded as a male as well as my actions have created a toxic and unprofessional environment,” Browne commented.
“I am very sorry to anyone that has been negatively impacted by my and anyone else’s actions and I promise to all that I have been and will continue to do better.”
His statement continued, saying he is currently seeking counselling “to better understand the negative impact I have had on female colleagues and staff.”
Browne said he is willing to attend mediation to address the needs of anyone who has been negatively impacted.
“I only wish that the good work of the organization and all those involved will not be discounted as I believe in many respects the community is a better place because of all’s efforts involved.”
Browne also apologized publicly on Street Culture Project’s Facebook post that announced the investigation. Browne additionally stated he was resigning effective immediately.
His comments were praised by users on social media as being the right move.
As executive director, Browne was responsible for overseeing the organization’s 100 staff members and numerous programs, according to Street Culture Project’s website.
Browne has been the recipient of numerous community awards, including the City of Regina Crime Prevention Award, CBC’s Future 40 Award and the 2015 Governor General Leadership Alumni. He also spearheaded the city’s first homeless youth shelter.
“Dustin’s warm, welcoming and humour-filled personality gives him the ability to create long lasting relationships with everyone he meets,” reads Browne’s bio that remains up on Street Culture Regina’s website. “It’s no surprise the success he’s had within the agency and will continue having.”
Global News has reached out to Browne for comment.
When CBC reached out to Browne, he deferred them to his Instagram statement.