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Man in sexual harassment claim considers legal action

Kevin Murphy, March 24, 2016, 12:20:55 (UTC), Domain Policy

The man accused of sexual harassment at an ICANN meeting is considering legal action for defamation.

He’s also filed a counter-complaint with ICANN Ombudsman Chris LaHatte, after his accuser named him on a public mailing list.

That’s according to emails from LaHatte, screen-captured and posted to social media by the woman making the accusations.

LaHatte had previously told the woman that the man could not recall the alleged incident, said to have taken place during ICANN 55 in Marrakech a couple of weeks ago.

The woman says her name tag — at ICANN meetings a rectangle of plastic hanging loosely around the neck on a strap — was “pulled at” while the man made “inappropriate remarks”.

The content of the alleged remarks has not yet been disclosed.

She published her Ombudsman complaint — which names the man — to a public mailing list late last week.

In the new email, LaHatte tells her that naming the man publicly has complicated matters.

The investigation now becomes very difficult. Indeed, he has complained about the naming as being unfair and asked me to undertake a complaint investigation about your action.

The man was entitled to a “fair and impartial investigation”, he said, but “his privacy has been compromised”.

I have been waiting for a response from you about his reaction to the allegations. So he has now complained that he has been named before he had a chance for your response to be considered by me, and for any analysis and report. This is a matter of procedural fairness, and in my view he should have had the opportunity to have your reply. He is therefore considering his response which may include litigation unfortunately.

The complainant says she wants ICANN to create a sexual harassment policy for its participants — she was already talking to LaHatte about this before the alleged incident.

ICANN’s board of directors said in Marrakech it had instructed staff to look into the possibility of such a policy.

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Comments (5)

  1. R. Funden says:

    Anyone who did not see this coming raise their hands now!

  2. Ryan says:

    What is this all about he said she said nonsense, go to the police, file a compliant, or does ICANN just have to much money now?

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      I don’t think anyone is alleging that this rises to the level where the police would need to become involved. I haven’t seen any claims of any criminal act.

      In general, I think sexual harassment is a civil, rather than criminal, matter.

  3. Reg says:

    Unfortunately, I agree. When it was “just some guy, could be anyone, really”, the conversation was productive and tended toward changing the culture at ICANN. Once he was named, it became a conversation of “well, it’s just him, specifically” or “I’d never believe it of him, specifically”.

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