A former Q producer who claims she was sexually harassed by fired CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi has gone public with her story, including complaints to her superiors that she said were ignored.
In an opinion piece for The Guardian on Tuesday, Kathryn Borel, 35, came forward to share the details of her allegations.
Borel, who lives and works in Los Angeles, was known as the unnamed Q staffer who accused Ghomeshi of groping and saying he wanted to “hate f—-k her” when she yawned at a meeting.
“I made sure never to yawn in front of him again,” Borel wrote.
In the piece, Borel recounts her time at Q, the effect of the harassment on her life and the failure of the CBC to protect her interests.
She alleges Ghomeshi repeatedly sexually harassed her at work.
“After that, there were the uninvited back massages at my desk to which it was clear I couldn’t say no, during which my host’s hands would slide down just a little too close to the tops of my breasts. A year into my time on the job, he grabbed my rear end and claimed he couldn’t control himself because of my skirt. Occasionally my host would stand in the doorway of his office when no one was around and slowly undo his shirt by two or three buttons while staring at me, grinning,” she wrote in The Guardian.
Borel — who was herself interviewed by Ghomeshi on Q for her 2009 book Corked — worked as a producer for the show for three years.
In an interview on The National on Tuesday, Borel said she reported the harassment, and even spoke to a union representative who relayed her concerns to Q executive producer Arif Noorani in 2010.
“Instead of the ‘I believe you’ route, he took the let’s figure out how you can change your behaviour, you can modify your behaviour so that you don’t evoke this kind of pattern of behaviour from Jian,” she said.
She never filed a formal complaint, and her union and Noorani — who is currently on leave from Q — have denied sexual harassment allegations were brought to their attention.
In a statement, Carmel Smyth, the national president of the Canadian Media Guild said “the experience (Borel) describes is unacceptable. No one should be harassed at work.”
“We admire her courage in speaking out and are sorry for the pain she has experienced. Since I and union staff became aware of this issue, we have reached out to her and have offered and continue to offer her any assistance that we can provide,” Smyth wrote.
Borel eventually left to go work in Los Angeles, saying “I was essentially forced to either leave the show or allow my boss to lay his hands on my body at his pleasure.”
The CBC has launched an investigation into Borel’s complaints and how the Ghomeshi incident was handled.
However, Borel writes that she’s unconvinced things will change at the CBC, saying “the key players who protected Ghomeshi for so long are now seemingly using those skills to protect themselves.”
“I blamed myself up until recently. I came out publicly talking about this and I had this fear that I wasn’t right, I wasn’t trusting my experiences,” Borel said on The National.
Last Wednesday, Toronto police charged Ghomeshi with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.
His criminal lawyer Marie Henein said Ghomeshi will plead not guilty and will fight the charges “fully and directly” in court.