Former Penguin Canada president David Davidar has hit back at claims by ex-employee Lisa Rundle that he had sexually harassed her over a three-year period. Via his lawyer, Peter Downard, Davidar released a lengthy statement recounting the nature of his relationship with Rundle, insisting that it was a consensual one:
David Davidar has not sexually harassed anyone. He has not assaulted anyone. David Davidar had a consensual, flirtatious relationship that grew out of a close friendship with a colleague. He deeply regrets the hurt this has caused his wife.
Commencing in late 2005, Mr. Davidar and Ms. Rundle had offices next to each other at Penguin. They became friends. At work, Mr. Davidar and Ms. Rundle spent significant time in each other’s offices. At Ms. Rundle’s invitation, Mr. Davidar played tennis with her at her tennis club. They went to a tennis tournament together. They attended the theatre together. They had lunches in restaurants together.
Ms. Rundle and Mr. Davidar kissed on two occasions. The first was in Ms. Rundle’s room at the October 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair referred to in Ms. Rundle’s claim. However, contrary to Ms. Rundle’s claim, Mr. Davidar did not bully his way into her room, nor did he force himself upon her. Ms. Rundle did not object when they kissed. After the kiss, Ms. Rundle said she wanted to take a nap, as she was feeling jet-lagged. She asked Mr. Davidar to wake her up in an hour.
Two days later, Mr. Davidar and Ms. Rundle went to dinner at a restaurant. After dinner, Mr. Davidar kissed Ms. Rundle again, this time in his hotel room. Ms. Rundle then left to spend the evening with a friend. The next morning, Mr. Davidar and Ms. Rundle returned to Toronto. Upon arriving, Ms. Rundle asked Mr. Davidar for a ride to her home, which he provided.
Ms. Rundle subsequently told Mr. Davidar that she had enjoyed their kisses in Frankfurt, whether or not they were ever repeated. She did nothing to convey to Mr. Davidar that his attention was unwanted.
The statement goes on to claim that Samantha Francis, another employee who filed an earlier complaint of sexual harassment against Davidar, told him that the human resources department had simply misunderstood an enquiry she had made about one of his comments, and that she wished to withdraw the enquiry against him.