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City staffer files civil lawsuit against McCann alleging harassment, sex assault and battery

Woman seeking $200,000 in damages for alleged 'unwanted touching of a sexual nature, sexualized comments, sexual advances, and sexual solicitations'

Editor's note: The following story contains allegations and language contained in a court document that could be disturbing for some readers. 

A City of Barrie staffer has filed a statement of claim against Coun. Mike McCann alleging employment-related sexual harassment in the form of “unwanted touching of a sexual nature, sexualized comments, sexual advances, and sexual solicitations."

Amanda Kelly, a 32-year-old senior business innovation and entrepreneurship officer with the city, cites three alleged instances in the civil lawsuit, which was filed Jan. 17 in Ontario Superior Court and seeks $200,000 in damages, plus any costs the court approves.

The 19-page statement of claim notes that Kelly has been in her position with the city since February 2018 and is now on a medical leave of absence. 

None of the allegations contained in the claim have been tested in court.

“These are serious allegations,” McCann said in a text message to BarrieToday on Monday. “I have not been served with any (statement of) claim. If I do get served, I will vigorously defend myself in court.”

One of Kelly's lawyers, Morgan Sim from Parker Sim LLP in Toronto, said the rules of civil procedure in Ontario allow for six months to serve a statement of claim once it has been issued by a court. Sim also said her client did not wish to comment further on the lawsuit at this time. 

The statement of claim alleges the first incident happened in or around October 2019 when Kelly was attending a downtown establishment for a work-related event to provide a tour of the area to a Toronto businessowner looking to relocate to Barrie. The claim says McCann, who was first elected to city council in 2014 in Ward 10, was also at the restaurant and approached Kelly and her business guest.

The claim states McCann said hello and asked Kelly what she had done the previous weekend and she said she attended a birthday party. McCann then allegedly asked if she wore a costume, to which Kelly replied said she went as a grunge rocker; McCann responded by saying, “Oh, you should have been a ballerina with those legs.”

Kelly's states she felt degraded and humiliated by the “unwelcome and sexually charged comment about her body.”

The statement of claim also says that Kelly “raised her eyebrows, laughed awkwardly, and walked away from Coun. McCann as quickly as possible.”

The next incident cited in the statement of claim allegedly took place on or around Nov. 18, 2019, when Kelly attended a meeting at city hall regarding the youth entrepreneurship programming for 2020 and McCann’s proposed 'Be Your 10' competition/campaign. 

The claim alleges McCann was present, as were several of Kelly’s colleagues. The claim states McCann arrived late to the meeting and sat next to Kelly, who states in the legal filing that the councillor’s “face was red, that he was rocking back and forth in his chair and sweating profusely.” The claim also alleges McCann was “speaking quickly and aggressively,” often interrupting Kelly and her colleagues. 

According to the statement of claim, at one point during the meeting, Kelly made a comment about “seeding” or fertilizing” entrepreneurial skill sets in youth. The claim alleges McCann interrupted Kelly by laughing, putting his hands in the air and saying “you said it, not me.” Kelly's statement of claim alleges the councillor was intentionally misinterpreting her comment to have a sexual meaning and implying that was her intent. 

Following the second alleged encounter, the statement of claim says Kelly “felt degraded and humiliated in front of her co-workers” following the comment from McCann.

The third alleged incident occurred on or about Dec. 19, 2019, at a downtown establishment after a work-related Christmas function. According to the statement of claim, approximately 20 people from the original 50 who attended the earlier business event also attended the after-party at the pub.

The statement of claim alleges that while Kelly was speaking with friends and colleagues, she thought she heard her name called and turned to see McCann heading in her direction.

In what the claim called “an urgent tone,” McCann said, “Amanda, Amanda, come here, we need you.” The claim alleges McCann’s tone seemed to suggest that the matter was urgent and she excused herself from the discussion with colleagues.

The claim alleges McCann introduced Kelly to the group he was with by saying, “This is Amanda from the city.” Kelly states she shook hands with those present in a professional manner, but did not recognize most of the people who were there. One individual was dancing in the middle of the group and Kelly states that when she shook that individual’s hand, McCann laughed and commented, “Uh oh, you shouldn't have done that. You don’t want to know where that just was,” in reference to the person’s hand she shook.

The statement of claim indicates Kelly took that to mean McCann was suggesting the individual's hand had recently touched their own genitals. The claim states the individuals present in the group exchanged looks and began to laugh.

The claim says Kelly was disgusted by McCann's comment in light of its “inappropriate innuendo” and believing to have germs on her hand, wiped that hand on McCann’s sleeve.

The statement of claim then alleges McCann grabbed her wrist and firmly held it up in front of the group, exclaiming, “Ha, hey, did you guys see that, did you see what she just did?” The claim alleges McCann began to shake her wrist high above the group’s heads until she pulled her hand free and turned her body with the intention of walking away.

The statement of claim alleges McCann responded to Kelly turning away by loudly saying, “Amanda, we need you in this conversation. I actually brought you over here because we’re having a conversation about grabbing women’s asses in public and we need you here for that. What do you think?”

In the statement of claim, Kelly says she froze and felt “an air of titillation from the group as they awaited her response.” Kelly allegedly responded by saying “don’t do it,” to which the group laughed and McCann said, “Oh come on." Kelly says she responded, “Yeah, don’t do it, it’s not cool.”

The statement of claim alleges McCann responded by telling Kelly he was trying to get her in on the group he was with, asking her, "Do you even know who these guys are?" Kelly said she interpreted the question to mean she should feel privileged to be included in the group he was with. McCann then allegedly asked Kelly to get a drink, but she continued to her colleagues.

The statement of claim alleges that about five minutes later, Kelly heard McCann say, "Hey Amanda, I want to talk to you." Kelly alleges she turned to the councillor, who was approximately two feet away from her; he took a step back and slowly looked her up and down, put his arm around her and pulled her against him tightly. 

While they were pressed together, Kelly alleges McCann asked her how old she was.

Kelly allegedly asked him “how old do you think I am?” to which McCann said, “22.” She claims she then looked at McCann, frowned and stated, “No, that would be awkward and inappropriate.” McCann then allegedly dropped his hand from her back and began discussing work-related issues with Kelly.

The statement of claim then alleges McCann said he loved what Kelly was doing in her role with the city, that he believed it was important and that he wanted to partner up with her in business and the private sector more. Kelly allegedly responded, “Well, we’ll see,” and stated in the claim she felt her portfolio was at stake due to reorganization by her department less than a month prior.

The statement of claim then alleges McCann laughed and, while waving his arms, said: “Amanda, I don’t give a fuck what’s going on at city hall. I don’t give a fuck what anyone over there says. I go in there and do whatever the fuck I want.”

According to the statement of claim, McCann then allegedly says: “Look, you don’t ever need to be worried about what’s going on over there right now. I like you. I want us to work together. I can make sure nobody touches you. Look, I can make or break your career, Amanda, and I’ve decided that I want to work with you. You’re different than everyone else at city hall. You’re special.”

In the statement of claim, Kelly says she understood those comments to mean the councillor could advance or destroy her career depending on his positive or negative opinion of her. 

Kelly sought to change the subject by telling McCann, “Well, I actually work with the people here more than the people at city hall.” She claims she then asked McCann if he knew everyone there, motioning to the group at the establishment with whom she was with.

It is alleged that McCann then laughed at the question and said, “Do you think I give a fuck about anyone here? Do you think I give a fuck who they are? Do you know how much time I actually spend doing council stuff? Like one per cent and then I walk into places like this and do whatever I want.”

The statement of claim alleges McCann then put his hand around her again, pulled her close and began bragging about what his company earned the year before. Kelly claims that he pulled her close and that specks of saliva landed on her face and she began saying “OK” in a "detached and disinterested voice." At that time, the claim alleges someone got McCann’s attention and Kelly used that moment to try and slip away from the situation.

The statement of claim alleges McCann got loud and angrily said, “OK, OK, OK  you know what I can’t stand? I just can’t stand it." He allegedly then began to slam his fists in the air stating, “I hate it when people want something they haven’t fucking earned.”

According to the statement of claim, Kelly says she felt frozen and terrified in the moment. 

After a short discussion with someone who had pulled McCann away from the scene, it's alleged that McCann turned back to Kelly and said, “You know, Amanda, you and I need to go to dinner.” The statement of claim says Kelly replied by saying, “I don’t know about that,” to which McCann allegedly said, “No, no, no. You and I are going for dinner and you’re not allowed to bring anyone else.”

The statement of claim alleges McCann had by then moved in toward Kelly, run his hand up her thigh, pulled their bodies close again, pushed his face to hers and pushed his pelvis into hers while gyrating his hips and grunted in a sexual way.

The statement of claim indicates Kelly told McCann her boyfriend would not like that, to which McCann allegedly asks how long they’ve been together and tells her to “ditch him. We’re going for dinner. Give me your phone.”

The statement of claim says Kelly gave him her phone, knowing she would never contact him. Kelly said she also believed this gave her a chance to contact a colleague to help intervene, which McCann saw; he allegedly became furious. 

The statement of claim alleges that in the moments following, McCann left the immediate area after becoming visibly angry. It states Kelly then went to the washroom where she tried to calm herself and began crying, but “was determined to gather herself until she got home given the professional nature of the event.” Kelly received a ride home from a colleague at approximately 12:30 a.m., the statement says. 

On or about Dec. 30, 2019, the statement of claim says Kelly met with Mayor Jeff Lehman to lodge a complaint. After that, the City of Barrie retained a third-party investigator to conduct a formal investigation of the incidents. That investigator concluded that “Coun. McCann’s behaviour was inappropriate, disrespectful and harassing.”

The statement of claim also alleges McCann participated in in-camera (behind closed doors) meetings about the investigation and voted on matters pertaining to the investigation report without declaring a conflict, despite being the subject of the sexual assault and harassment complaint.

The statement of claim alleges the councillor’s involvement in the process caused her to feel “anxious, upset and further disempowered.”

Kelly's statement of claim says the alleged incidences have impacted her “ability to work and maintain her community involvement" and “they have also impacted her personal relationships and overall health.” The claim also states McCann’s alleged actions resulted in Kelly “suffering from numerous medical issues,” both physical and emotional. 

“The course of Amanda’s career has been irrevocably altered for the worse by the assaults and battery she was subjected to by Coun. McCann,” the statement of claim alleges.