Council to vote Wednesday on 180-day pay suspension for Rick Chiarelli
OTTAWA -- With no power to remove him from office, Ottawa city council will vote Wednesday on whether to suspend College Ward Coun. Rick Chiarelli’s pay for another six months.
That recommendation comes from a second, damning report that outlines allegations of harassment and inappropriate behaviour.
"You don’t realize how bad it is until you’re removed and it’s heartbreaking to see it happen to other women, especially women after me," says Stephanie Dobbs.
"I just smiled about everything even though I felt very dead inside."
Dobbs is one of the formal complainants in the Integrity Commissioner's report that looked into allegations against Chiarelli.
"He has this weird obsession with bras and side boob and would talk about it. He had brought up not wearing a bra at my initial interview," Dobbs said.
The 90-page report outlines disturbing details from both complainants and nearly a dozen witnesses that found Chiarelli committed "incomprehensible incidents of harassment."
"It’s not normal for your boss to have a photo of you on his phone that he shows to people," said Dobbs.
The report called Chiarelli's conduct a "shocking and astounding failure to treat the complainants with the respect they were due and required of him by the Code of Conduct" and that he "abused staff by tasking them with improper duties and functions."
"When I was in the interview with the councillor, and was basically being pressured to tell personal information about myself in order to prove my loyalty, I had disclosed about a sexual assault that had happened to me," Dobbs said. "My mom didn’t know about that so I had to have a very difficult conversation with her and let her know about that."
Chiarelli has previously denied any wrongdoing. He did not participate in the Integrity Commissioner’s investigation and is currently challenging the commissioner’s jurisdiction to investigate such allegations in court.
In a post on Twitter, Chiarelli says he's waiting for the outcome of that review regarding the "biased handling of the anonymous allegations against him by the mayor, the City, and the city's integrity commissioner" and looks forward to his day in court.
Without the power to fire Chiarelli, Council can only vote on whether or not to suspend his pay for an additional 180 days and remove him from committees.
"It shouldn’t take a councillor being jailed or missing for three consecutive months for them to be removed," Dobbs said.
Dobbs wrote to the premier, who says he is listening.
"We’ll review it but I’ll make a call to Mayor Watson today and get a briefing on it," Ford said Tuesday.
For Dobbs, being able to tell her story is helping her heal.
"The last couple days have actually felt a lot more freeing and better because I’ve been able to openly talk to people about it and I don’t feel like I’m hiding," she said.