Bennett decision kept secret

The decision on Fire Chief Rob Bennett's position has been made, but is not yet being disclosed.

A decision on whether or not Fire Chief Rob Bennett will keep his position or not after an investigation into complaints of alleged sexual harassment has been made.

However, the District of Fort St. James will not be releasing information on their decision until this week, past press time.

The decision to hold back releasing the information on whether or not Bennett would be allowed to keep his position and what, if any, action will be taken was said to be due to possible variables.

Kevin Crook, chief administrative officer for the District, said they want to only have to make one announcement, so they are holding back until they know for certain how it will work.

Bennett has been on paid leave from his role as fire chief while Don Fraser has been acting fire chief in his place while an investigation was underway into two formal complaints of sexual harassment against Bennett.

The first complaint related to an alleged incident at the fire hall after practice on July 18.

Kirstin Rudolph filed the complaint involving Bennett’s behaviour with the District of Fort St. James shortly after.

The District of Fort St. James then hired an independent investigator to look into the allegations.

Rudolph said she was frustrated she was not told a decision had been made and called it a “wonderful lack of communication.”

“I’m so annoyed with this,” she said.

Rudolph, the other complainant and another female firefighter who spoke to the investigator  are all directly involved and Rudolph said they should have been informed a decision was made, she said. “We’re all wondering what the decision is.”

Rudolph said she had left messages with Mayor Rob Macdougall after she found out a decision had been made and had not heard anything in response.

“I’d like to know why they’re not telling us,” she said. “If there’s a valid reason, tell us what that reason is.”

She said she wanted to know if their allegations have been substantiated by the investigation and when those involved would learn the decision.

“Again, we find out through other people … that’s not the way it should be,” she said.

RCMP have also been conducting a criminal investigation into the alleged incidents.

Mayor Rob Macdougall said he and council had passed a unanimous resolution at the special meeting on August 21 for Crook to speak on their behalf in order to remain consistent and so he could not say more on the matter.

Fire Chief Rob Bennett did not immediately return calls from The Caledonia Courier.


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