This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.
According to a police complaint, one of the biggest names in climate science grabbed, touched, and forcibly kissed a female subordinate in the workplace.
India’s Economic Times reports that a complaint was filed with Indian police five days ago against Rajendra Pachauri, the longtime chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
A 29-year-old woman employed by Pachauri’s TERI institute has accused the 74-year-old of ongoing inappropriate behaviour that began shortly after she commenced working there in late 2013. Although the Economic Times headline suggests this is a case of sexual harassment, the allegations extend well beyond that:
On many occasions, against my wishes and despite knowing that I am totally against any such behaviour/act, Dr Pachauri has grabbed my body by hugging me, holding my hands, forcibly kissing me and touching my body inappropriately. [bold added]
In Canada, forcibly kissing a woman after she has told you she isn’t interested is not harassment. It’s sexual assault.
The Economic Times reports that the 33-page police complaint contains a copy of a hand-written note allegedly written by Pachauri. It says that 31 pages take the form of dated e-mails, text messages, and WhatsApp messages:
They indicate that she repeatedly asked for a halt to the alleged messages and other advances.
Everyone has a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the above allegations have not been proven in a court of law. After being contacted by the newspaper, Pachauri vigorously denied the allegations and claimed that he himself is a victim. Of hacking. According to him:
unknown cyber criminals have gone ahead and have unauthorisedly accessed my computer resources and communications devices and further committed various criminal activities.
…The entire computer outputs on the basis of which the said complaint has been filed…are completely false, fabricated, forged and manipulated.
Pachauri says he has reported this alleged hacking to Indian officials.
According to the Economic Times, the complainant approached the police four days after raising the matter internally at her workplace. In that workplace, Pachauri is at the top of the pyramid. He has been in charge since 1981 (34 years). For all intents and purposes, he is TERI.
But Pachauri is more than just the big boss where this 29-year-old woman works. He is also a world-renowned public figure. In 2010 he was described, by an inquiry that examined IPCC practices, as “the leader and the face” of that UN body.
A police complaint has been filed against one of the biggest names in international climate science. When sex assault allegations were leveled against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in 2011, he similarly professed his innocence. But he resigned within days in order to protect the IMF’s brand.
Rajendra Pachauri should do the same.
The Economic Times story and a similar one published in the Hindustan Times have now vanished from the Internet – although they still show up in Google search results.
The Economic Times says Pachauri requested that the newspaper refrain from publishing its story “until the investigations had been completed.” It now appears that pressure has been brought to bear in this regard. You can read the Economic Times story as it appeared online earlier today here and here – or as a PDF here.
The notion that news should not be reported until everything has been decided is highly unusual. Here in Canada, a prominent radio personality was recently fired from his job due to allegations of sexual impropriety. His employer took this step – and the press reported on the matter extensively – before any of the female complainants had even talked to the police.
Donna Laframboise is a Canadian investigative journalist and author of the 2013 book, Into the Dustbin: Rajendra Pachauri, the Climate Report & the Nobel Peace Prize. See Amazon.com, Amazon India, and other Amazon stores.