TVO Host Steve Paikin Fires Back At Sarah Thomson Over ‘Scurrilous’ Sexual Harassment Allegations: ‘You’ve Defamed Me’

Steve Paikin, the host of TVO’s The Agenda, is under investigation for sexual harassment allegations involving former Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson.

In a statement released by TVO Chief Executive Officer Lisa de Wilde on Monday, the public broadcaster said they became aware of the allegation on Feb. 3 when an email from Thomson was sent to Paikin in relation to comments she alleges took place at a lunch in 2010.

The station said Paikin immediately notified TVO of the email.

Thomson referenced the allegation in an online post published on Feb. 2 in which she alleges Paikin asked if he could sleep with her.

“My assistant and I met him at Grano’s on Yonge Street, and the three of us ordered our lunch. Not five minutes into the lunch the host asked me if I would sleep with him,” Thomson wrote.

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“My assistant almost spit his drink all over the table. I politely told the host that I loved my husband and would never do that. I then excused myself, went to the washroom and called my campaign manager.”

TVO said it has appointed an independent third-party to investigate the allegations but that Paikin will remain on the job as they see “no reason to remove” him based on the evidence to date.

“TVO does not tolerate sexual harassment. We believe it is important that allegations be fully heard and investigated,” the statement read. “Therefore, TVO is appointing an independent third-party to investigate Ms. Thomson’s allegation.”

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“However, based on the evidence to date, TVO sees no reason to remove Mr. Paikin from his role as Host for “The Agenda” pending the outcome of the investigation. During the investigation, stories related to this subject matter will be handled by other TVO journalists.”

Thomson ran for the mayor’s office in 2010 and 2014 and later withdrew both contests. She was nominated for the Ontario Liberal Party candidate for the riding of Trinity-Spadina in 2011 but placed second.

Following her withdrawal from the 2014 mayoral election, she registered to run as councillor for Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina but placed third to winner Joe Cressy.

Paikin is a journalist and began working for TVO in 1992. He has hosted a number of shows for the station including “Between the Lines”, “Fourth Reading” and “Studio 2”. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in December 2013.

On Tuesday, Paikin fired back in a scathing Facebook post, blasting Thomson’s allegations as “100 per cent false” while outlining the measures he took in making his employers aware of the accusations.

“I’ve spent 35 years building my reputation. In one fell swoop, these lies have prompted outrageous headlines and connected me to a story to which I have no business being connected,” Paikin wrote. “Well, all that ends today. Today, I begin to reclaim my reputation and fight back against these scurrilous allegations.”

Insisting he means “no harm” to Thomson, he wrote, “Sarah, you and I both know the incident you described never happened. It’s complete fiction. To be clear, I did not have sex, suggest, request, imply, or joke about having sex with you”

He added: “Sadly, in this day and age, too many people are going to believe the lie, especially when it comes to this subject. I am mortified that in many peoples’ eyes, I have lost the presumption of innocence that I’ve previously enjoyed. But I did not do these things. There is simply no truth to these allegations.”

Paikin ends his message thusly: “You’ve defamed me Sarah. I have no idea why, but you have. And I simply can’t allow that to stand. The quest to reclaim my reputation, which you’ve tried to destroy, begins now. I look forward to vindication.”

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