In part 3 of this series, we continue the review of the meditation process.
In the previous post, we showed that in his report (dated 12.02.15), the mediator explained in detail to the Management Committee that trust in them was at an all-time low, and as a result participation in the process was minimal (although one of the women claiming sexual abuse did speak to him). He stated that:
- A significant number of callers were extremely reluctant to participate due to trust issues.
- The community wanted the promised transparent investigation and felt that mediation was premature.
- People believed it was a fishing or fact-finding mission on behalf of the board.
- There were perceptions of attacks from the board upon people making the claims of sexual abuse or those who wished to raise issues.
- The community felt that the Management Committee were being secretive and not transparent.
- They also believed that the board members merely followed Russell’s instructions and were not really independent.
The Management Committee dismissed these findings and appear to draw other conclusions from the report. The next day they met to discuss it:
If the community suspected that the Management Committee would be biased or “not really independent” then Russell being invited to “attend as a guest of the Committee” is a cause for concern. Particularly given that the community members who participated in the Mediation were not allowed to know what the report contained or how their testimony had been worded.
“Reverse the undertaking…?”
Astonishingly, they discussed the possibility of reversing Russell’s written commitment to the community to “cease the activities” because if another woman in the future also alleged sexual abuse then the Management Committee would have to deal with it. In their own words reversing the undertaking “took away the risk factor” (i.e. their Duty of Care responsibilities).
“Swamiji’s word is what matters…”
One member of the board even went so far as to state for the record that Swamiji’s word is what mattered to him. Bias? Confirmed.
In another set of meeting minutes dated 17.02.15 they summarised the Mediation process as follows:
“Under no obligation…”
To put this statement into context: The Managing Director of an ACNC Registered Charity Organisation had been accused of sexual abuse by a number of female volunteers, and the Management Committee felt that he was under “no obligation to make a full disclosure” as to what had occurred?
“No reason to believe….”
Although the committee states here that they have “no reason to believe that Russell has not made full disclosure”, they note in the very next paragraph that one of the women who spoke to the mediator disputed Russell’s account:
The woman in question had spoken to the Mediator and “alleged sexual abuse”, or in his words “sexual contact with Swamiji and pressure to progress to sexual intercourse” (also known as Sexual Harassment). Surely this would prompt the Management Committee to look further into the claims of the other women on their so-called “Jane Doe” list?
Clearly not. The only conclusion they drew from it was the need to create a “further legal safeguard” for themselves.
“Nothing more to investigate…”
Despite the fact that barely eight weeks had passed since the initial Satsang announcement and the community was demanding a real investigation, the Management Committee regarded the matter as already closed. In their view, Russell’s version of events combined with the lack of participation in the offered mediation process was the only “investigation” required.
More to follow…