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Indian-born CEO sacked in sex assault case
Toronto, Jun 13 (IANS):
Published on 14 Jun. 2010 12:54 AM IST
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David Davidar, Indian-born president and CEO of Penguin Canada, has admitted he was sacked following a sexual harassment complaint by an ex-employee, after claiming earlier that he voluntarily left the publishing giant.
Joined by Penguin Group chairman John Makinson, Davidar had announced Tuesday that he was leaving the company to “pursue his successful writing career and other projects”.
But the next day, Lisa Rundle, former director of digital publishing and foreign rights at Penguin Canada, filed a $523,000 lawsuit in a court here against Penguin, alleging she faced sexual harassment for three years and then an outright assault by Davidar at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.
The Toronto woman alleged in her lawsuit that she was fired when she complained against Davidar to her seniors.
She has claimed $423,000 in damages from Penguin for her dismissal and treating her in “harsh, vindictive and malicious fashion” when she complained against Davidar.
She has demanded another $100,000 in damages from Davidar for her sexual harassment.
The lawsuit forced both Davidar and Penguin to change their statement on the reasons for the Indian’s departure from Penguin.
David said in a statement Friday: “At Penguin’s request, I agreed to publicly state that my departure was voluntary. The truth is that a former colleague accused me of sexual harassment and Penguin terminated my employment.”
But he denied charges of sexual harassment.
Penguin Canada also issued a statement: “Davidar was asked to leave the company last month and his departure was announced June 8. Davidar will play no further role in the company.”
Penguin also denied the woman’s charge that she was axed for complaining against Davidar.
Quoting the woman’s lawsuit, the Globe and Mail reported that it was accompanied by many lusty emails allegedly sent by Davidar to her in which he says that she is “utterly gorgeous,” “a vision in pink sipping a champagne cocktail,” and he “could do very little except think of (her),” and that she should not be “stubborn” or “fight” him.
The lawsuit states that “Davidar over time became more and more intense with his persistent protestations of lust and desire for Lisa... and in return she became increasingly disturbed and afraid,” culminating in an outright assault on her at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
According to the lawsuit’s statement of claim, Davidar appeared at her hotel room door (in Frankfurt) “wearing excessive cologne, with buttons on his shirt undone down his waist.
“Lisa stood in her hotel room into which Davidar had bullied his way, with her arms crossed, still near the door, and asked what he needed to discuss.
“He told her to relax and just let him come in. She refused and said she wanted to go to sleep.”
When she climbed on a windowsill to avoid her boss, “he forcibly pulled her off the ledge and grabbed her by the wrists, forcing his tongue into her mouth”.
The once golden boy of Penguin started its Indian division from scratch and took it to the heights of Asian publishing before taking over Penguin Canada.

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