Ex-Al­berta fire chief ac­cused of ha­rass­ment

Hailed as hero dur­ing de­struc­tive blaze

National Post (National Edition) - - NEWS - LAU­REN KRUGEL

A for­mer Al­berta fire chief hailed by many as a hero for his role in bat­tling the de­struc­tive Fort McMurray wild­fire in 2016 has been ac­cused of sex­u­ally ha­rass­ing a fe­male sub­or­di­nate dur­ing pre­vi­ous jobs he had.

The al­le­ga­tions against Darby Allen when he worked in Cal­gary’s fire de­part­ment date back to about 2002 and have not been proven in court.

The woman filed a state­ment of claim in Al­berta Court of Queen’s Bench in 2018 that al­leges Allen made sex­u­ally charged com­ments, groped her and be­came hos­tile when she made plans with other men. It also al­leges Allen poked her in the back with his erect pe­nis in her cu­bi­cle.

“Allen sub­jected the plain­tiff to near daily sex­ual ha­rass­ment, as­saults and bat­tery,” says the claim, first re­ported by CBC News. “Allen abused his power and au­thor­ity over the plain­tiff to threaten her em­ploy­ment, as well as her per­sonal au­ton­omy and safety.”

The claim also al­leges the City of Cal­gary knew that Allen, who was decades older than the plain­tiff, was abus­ing his power.

The claim says Allen’s ac­tions caused or wors­ened the woman’s post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der and re­sulted in headaches, night ter­rors, in­som­nia, de­pres­sion and other ail­ments.

The doc­u­ment says a city in­ves­ti­ga­tion ul­ti­mately led to Allen be­ing fired.

Allen, who is from the United King­dom, be­came the face of the fight against the Fort McMurray fire, which he fa­mously nick­named “the beast.”

In a state­ment of de­fence filed last May, Allen de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and said the mat­ter was settled when the woman ac­cepted com­pen­sa­tion from the city. It also said the plain­tiff signed a re­lease in which “she re­leased all em­ploy­ees of the City of Cal­gary, and by im­pli­ca­tion, Allen.”

The woman told the CBC she did not sign such a doc­u­ment or re­ceive any com­pen­sa­tion.

The city says in its state­ment of de­fence that the court has no au­thor­ity to hear the claim and asks that the suit be dis­missed with costs. It filed a sep­a­rate ap­pli­ca­tion last February say­ing the mat­ter should be settled through ar­bi­tra­tion.

Allen’s lawyer said his client would not comment while the mat­ter is be­fore the courts.

Allen left his job as Fort McMurray fire chief in early 2017. His LinkedIn page says he lives in Van­cou­ver and does pub­lic speak­ing.

Darby Allen

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