This is an open letter by Johnny in response to EWB’s public statement released on August 8, 2019.
EWB’s Board claims to be survivor oriented and yet they do not even care to secure consent from the concerned person to release a biased and factually inaccurate statement. This statement is a one-sided attempt to deflect responsibility that does not address many questions that have been raised both by the complainant and the community at-large.
The number of things that are untrue are too numerous to address individually but here are a few:
It is important to note that as far as it is known, currently, all reports of investigations from this case and others are still being withheld, including from as far back as 2013 and as recently as 2019; which is in essence the source of the issues where there is no transparency or possibility of accountability to complainants.
The statement claims there was an “in-depth” investigation but the complainant was never even questioned during that process, they requested questions in advance and as a result were subsequently ignored in the process; the Board is fully aware of this, is this something that can really be called ”in-depth”.
It is inaccurate to say that a review was made with input from Chelsey Rhodes, as the expert hired refused to interview her about her case during the only face to face meeting they had. The Board has simply refused reconsidering the past investigation in light of the discrepancies that were pointed to by herself. The only opinion considered was not the complainant but the of “legal experts”. And opinion here is an important point, these so called legal experts never were in communication with the complainant so that the issues raised could be accounted for; this is by design not an impartial review.
The Board’s confidence that the organization has acted appropriately in light of these facts neither stands nor is substantiated in any definite manner.
The Board claims to “acknowledge Chelsey’s truth” yet, members of the management and Board refused on multiple occasions answering a question as simple “Do you believe Chelsey was harassed”. Since the report did not find this, because it was purportedly biased, and this bias cannot be contested as the report remains withheld. What is the meaning of saying that truth is being acknowledged when investigation reports are being withheld?
This document states that “The Board of EWB wants every member of our community to continue to do rewarding, productive and meaningful work in a safe, secure and respectful environment” and that you “regret any instance in which individual concerns were not fully acknowledged or addressed”. You were made aware that there were allegations against a person still employed by EWB and that they should be relived of the functions pending investigation; you never reached, to this day, to the person making those allegations; those were allegations of sexual assault. How can you claim the above statement has any truth?
To the light of the information the Board brings, no argument is made that could dispel doubts that EWB took advantage of the complainants precarious financial position to force a settlement whereby the complainant accepted only part of the issues being resolved and certainly not in full satisfaction; how can the Board continue to make such claims of resolution in light of the events and contestations of this year. Furthermore, it is generally accepted that settlements made under financial duress are null and void. The Board cannot continue to rely on the existence a mediated agreement as a way to deflect responsibility without answering these questions. Naturally, EWB’s Board also withholds these legal opinions.
Amongst statement that are misleading, the idea that the JF program was suspended doesn’t seem an accurate depiction of events, in fact, though a motion barring deployment of junior fellows (JFs) may have been passed by the board, JFs were never made aware that the expert who was hired recommended to reduce or suspend the JF program. In other words, there was no informed consent from JFs as this information was withheld from them. It certainly does not seem to have been a recommendation that the issues were to be fixed in a very short timeline of under two weeks and still proceed with deployment of JFs. Naturally it is not possible to know if the corrections brought about would satisfy or solve the issues raised as the full report is also being withheld.
On every point raised, there is no transparency from the Board to the members in general. This general situation is and continues to be unacceptable. I am confident that the current Board does not reflect the values and will of the membership in general and should be removed.