~ No criminal investigation against ex-staffer ~
PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (TEATT) Stuart Johnson’s complaint filed against a former cabinet worker has been dismissed, according to the Prosecutor’s Office (OM) on Monday.
Johnson filled the complaint against his former bodyguard/driver policeman Fernando Thomas on October 17, 2018, for slander and misuse of government funds.
“Johnson received a sepot [dismissal – Ed.] letter on December 20, 2018. There will be no further investigation,” the Prosecutor informed The Daily Herald.
Johnson had filed the complaint after a number of text messages alluded to sexual harassment towards Thomas while the two were in Europe for a work trip last year.
Conversations between the two men started to flood social media pages and Thomas was dismissed several days later, allegedly after refusing to engage in sexual acts with Johnson.
This newspaper received reports that Johnson and Thomas went to a casino after a day of meetings during the recent trip. Monies intended for their day allowances while travelling were played and lost at the establishment. Hours after their outing, Thomas requested a personal loan from Johnson.
According to reports, Johnson refused and indicated he was willing to make a deal with Thomas to pay for his accommodations for the rest of the trip. WhatsApp messages shared on social media showed a string of messages where Johnson appeared to make sexual advances, implying it was in exchange for money.
In the texts, Thomas wrote that he was not comfortable with the manner in which Johnson was speaking to him and would like to drop the conversation. Thomas then had to return to St. Maarten, unable to pay for the rest of his stay abroad. Feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed about the situation, he reportedly decided to seek assistance from a psychiatrist to help him with his traumatic experience.
This newspaper obtained a letter hand-delivered by a marshal to Thomas in which Johnson stated on October 9, 2018, that Thomas’ services were no longer needed in his cabinet. “Your character does not rhyme with the nature of the position, in which an undisputed level of respect, trust, and integrity,” stated Johnson in the letter to Thomas.
Frustrated by his sudden dismissal, Thomas started to get legal advice from a lawyer, but he supposedly has not been paid for his work in the cabinet since starting in early 2018 and continues to be unable to hire a lawyer to handle his case.
Thomas remains mum about the incident and did not want to make a statement concerning the OM’s announcement on Monday, but he maintains that injustice was done to him as a TEATT cabinet worker and hopes that all issues surrounding the dismissal will be resolved soon, as he remains on inactive duty from the police.
When asked by this newspaper why he did not file a complaint for the alleged sexual harassment treatment by Johnson, Thomas said in an invited comment, “I went to them right after it happened and they told me that there are no articles against sexual harassment in our laws, therefore the case could not be investigated.”
Johnson denied the allegations against him days after the story was written by this newspaper and said, “I have taken note of such, primarily because my integrity and character are falsely being slandered. It is unfortunate that this type of gossip serves as a distraction from the work towards rebuilding of the economy of St. Maarten. As the matter is now under investigation, I am not at liberty to discuss any information regarding the subject matter. I intend to continue focusing on the task of revitalising the economy.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/84289-prosecutor-dismisses-johnson-s-complaint