Angry group confronts Sooke CAO at home

Police have opened an investigation into the alleged harassment incident

Police have opened an investigation into an alleged harassment incident outside the home of District of Sooke chief administrative officer Teresa Sullivan.

The incident occurred on the evening of Aug. 10.

On Thursday, Sooke RCMP Staff Sgt. Jeff McArthur confirmed police have begun an investigation to look at “why people were in her (Sullivan’s) yard harassing her.”

McArthur would not say how many people were involved in the incident, but police were called after it occurred.

“We’re trying to figure out if we have any offence being committed here,” he said, adding that the starting point in the investigation is whether any mischief or criminal harassment occurred.

Police look at any criminal complaints filed by public officials seriously.

Sullivan said she was taken aback by the incident.

“This invasion of the personal privacy of my home left me feeling threatened in a community that has been very welcoming. I do not feel this small group of individuals is reflective of the community at large,” Sullivan said in a written statement.

“I am very proud of the work that has been accomplished since I arrived in Sooke. Mayor and council have been working very successfully with staff to move the community forward in many positive directions.”

Neither McArthur or Mayor Maja Tait can recall such an occurrence ever happening in Sooke with a public official.

Tait said she has had people come to her house with questions and comments, but never to express any form of malice or dissatisfaction.

“I wish I knew who it was because then I would like to have a conversation with whomever it is. It just seems such peculiar, outrageous behaviour,” Tait said.

“If someone is out of step why can’t you phone the mayor to have a conversation about what’s upsetting you? Why would you go to a staff member’s house in the middle of the evening and say unkind things?”

Sullivan was hired last December as CAO with unanimous approval from council. Tait continues to back Sullivan and doesn’t believe the attitude on council has changed.

While Sullivan’s short tenure has been controversial at times, she has received support from council, Tait said.

Bullying, especially the online kind, has plagued council and district staff for months.

Earlier this year, Coun. Kerrie Reay, while acting mayor, lashed out at social media which she said were filled with vitriolic attacks and misinformation, while last month, Tait said at an open council meeting that she wouldn’t put up with any harassment involving council or district staff.

Tait said the district will take disciplinary measures, corrective action, “or any other appropriate action as it is required” under provincial law against those looking to defame, or otherwise harass, a councillor or district official.

•••

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