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Health official given deadline for defence in sexual harassment case

Aug 18. 2017
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By The Nation

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A man working for the Public Health Ministry has been given until the end of Friday to offer a defence against accusations that he sexually harassed four female subordinates.

Failure to do so would force a ministry fact-finding committee to base its finding on the available evidence, which would be unfavourable to him, Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn warned on Thursday.

The unnamed man’s supervisor is also under scrutiny for allegedly failing to act on the complaints of harassment that went on for three years. Piyasakol said the matter must be resolved as an example for all ministry branches, to maintain a “culture” of virtue and morality.

He said the supervisor accused of failing to investigate the complaints and thus in effect allowing the alleged wrongdoing to continue was also being scrutinised.

A ministry source said the accused official had asked to meet the fact-finding panel to give his side of the story, but at a location other than his office, fearing reporters’ questioning.

If the panel members agreed to interview the man elsewhere as requested, it would be seen as possibly inappropriate and in violation of regulations, the source said. The official, who heads a division of the Office of Permanent Secretary for Public Health, has been transferred pending the investigation’s outcome to a district office in Nonthaburi.

The matter became public after one of the complainants – a 30-year-old married woman with children – led the others in secretly recording an alleged instance of harassment on video. The video, submitted along with their testimony earlier this month, ended up on the social media, prompting widespread criticism and calls for the official to be punished.

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