PHILIPSBURG—Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications TEATT Minister the Honourable Stuart Johnson has issued a statement as a conclusion to the alleged “abuse of power and sexual misconduct” involving his temporary cabinet worker saying the “false allegations can no longer go unchecked.”
He said, “At no time did I sexually harass anyone much less the former temporary cabinet worker contrary to the claim, though not direct but seemingly orchestrated by others with personal agendas,” said Johnson on Sunday
He said, “As an educator of 10 years with an impeccable record of service, I had first to consider what a media debate on this subject could do to our already fragmented society, and I felt it a responsible approach to let a transparent investigation take place before I make any further statements.”
Johnson had filed a complaint with the local police and Public Prosecutors office when he learnt that text messages were circulating containing lewd comments and sexually explicit and doctored photos suggesting he had propositioned his former staffer while they were on a working visit to The Netherlands. The prosecutor’s office has since then issued a letter in which it stated that the complaint was dismissed and there was no further investigation.
Although he is confident that the photos and allegations were maliciously concocted, Johnson understood as a public servant that the topic of abuse of power and sexual misconduct in the workplace is sensitive and “touches a core problem of abuse of powers that many people, especially women, in our community endure daily.”
“As such, I first wanted to ensure that the authorities did their investigation which shows I have done none of the things I was accused of doing and as such, the investigation was closed.”
The work to rebuild the Tourism product and economy on St. Maarten continues to be the focus of the TEATT Minister. However, Johnson felt it was now the right time to disclose the details surrounding the dismissal of the former cabinet worker especially considering that members of certain organisations were attempting to score political points awaiting my final statement on the subject.
In explaining the sequence of events, leading up to the false allegations, Johnson said he had operated from the standpoint of trust when he gave his government cellular phone to the former cabinet worker. While he was an executive assistant, the accuser had unrestricted access to the Minister’s government mobile phone, which he used to take photos, answer calls, and respond to texts when the minister was unavoidably away from his phone for meetings or any related work event.
It appears that during the first stage of his trip the former temporary cabinet worker spent the money he received from the Government to pay for his accommodations abroad and for meals at a casino. He subsequently left his outstanding hotel accommodation debts on the trip to the tune of over Euro$1000, which is unpaid to date.
When he could not generate sufficient funds to remain in The Netherlands, the former cabinet worker was forced to return home at which point the text messages surfaced. He appears to have taken advantage of his access to the Minister’s cellular phones and betrayed the trust of his employer in an attempt to paint a negative image transpired in The Netherlands.
After he returned to the island, the former cabinet worker failed to return to work at the cabinet despite several attempts by cabinet workers to encourage him to return. It was first felt that he was venting frustration at the delay in formalising his appointment to the Cabinet. He was informed that this was a matter that had to be handled through the approval of the Justice Minister and took time, as consideration also had to be given to the transfer by the KPSM.
Johnson concluded based on the continuous failure of the former cabinet worker to “show up” for work, he [the former cabinet worker] had no intention. The natural conclusion was that he no longer had an interest in working in the cabinet and as such, he was sent a formal letter of dismissal. The former cabinet worker has by now returned to KPSM. The balance of his payment is being held as Minister Johnson said the former cabinet worker is actually still being paid as a Police officer by the KPSM.
On the subject of outstanding payment from the cabinet, Johnson said, “The difference has to be calculated from the balance of the business trip which the former cabinet worker attended and did not complete.”
The minister says he will not allow a former employer of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau turned politician, to force him to enter into a mudslinging contest over rhetoric spewed by individuals with an axe to grind over his decision not to use taxpayers’ money to finance their comedy show.
The Tourism Minister explained that he has accepted an enormous responsibility to be the minister of TEATT and says he looks forward to rebuilding the island’s Tourism Product, reopen and restore both points of entry to full operation and create the opportunity for businesses to rebuild and re-hire workers. “No one should be placed in a position of abuse of any kind, and neither should individuals be falsely accused of personal or political gain.