Davidar Settles Sexual Harassment Suit Out of Court

Davidar Settles Sexual Harassment Suit Out of Court
David Davidar, the India-born former President of Penguin Canada who was forced to quit following allegations of sexual harassment by a colleague, has reached an out-of-court settlement with the accuser who was demanding 523,000 dollars in damages from him and the publishing firm.

Lisa Rundle, a former Rights and Contracts Director of Penguin Canada, had filed a lawsuit on June 10 in an Ontario Superior Court of Justice, alleging that Davidar had sexually harassed her repeatedly over the past three years, culminating in outright assault at the 'Frankfurt Book Fair' last fall.

However, 52-year-old Davidar, the 'golden boy' of international publishing industry, dismissed the charges but admitted that had a "consensual, flirtatious relationship" with Rundle, who had also claimed that she was fired after complaining to superiors about his "twisted treatment" of her.

All three parties to the lawsuit -- Rundle, Davidar and Penguin Canada -- settled their disputes yesterday and pledged silence.

"We can now advise that all allegations have been addressed and all matters resolved to the satisfaction of all parties," Peter Downard, lawyer of Davidar, was quoted as saying by The Globe and Mail, "none of the parties will be commenting further to the media."

However, the report did not give details of the settlement.

Penguin spokesperson Yvonne Hunter also said that "everything has been settled."

The company expects to follow the news by announcing the name of Penguin Canada's new President shortly, she said.

The allegations about sexual harassment came to light after Penguin Group CEO John Makinson jointly announced Davidar's departure in June, suggesting that he was leaving voluntarily to write novels.

Days later, Davidar said the company had terminated his services in the wake of the 523,000 dollars sexual harassment suit slapped against him by Rundle.

Rundle was claiming damages of 423,000 dollars from Penguin for "wrongful" dismissal and the "harsh, vindictive and malicious fashion" with which it allegedly treated her following her complaints against Davidar.

She was also seeking damages of 100,000 dollars against Davidar, who came to Canada from Penguin India in 2003, personally.

The accusations against Davidar were accompanied by quotations from several e-mail messages he allegedly sent to Rundle during the period in question.

Last year, he is said to have written that he "could do very little except think of (Rundle)," that she was "utterly gorgeous," "a vision in pink sipping a champagne cocktail," and that she should not be "stubborn" or "fight" him, the Canadian media reported.

At the Frankfurt Book Fair last October, according to the claim, Davidar appeared at Rundle's hotel room door "wearing excessive cologne, with buttons on his shirt undone down his waist."

Rundle claimed she climbed on a windowsill to avoid her boss and asked him to leave. "He forcibly pulled her off the ledge and grabbed her by the wrists, forcing his tongue into her mouth."

Reacting to the allegations, Davidar said last month that the two had offices next to each other at Penguin in the latter part of 2005 and had become friends. Two years later, their friendship had become "flirtatious".

"David Davidar has not sexually harassed anyone. He has not assaulted anyone. David Davidar had a consensual, flirtatious relationship that grew out of a close friendship with a colleague. He deeply regrets the hurt this has caused his wife," his lawyer had said in a statement.

Davidar and Rundle "kissed on two occasions," he had said.

"The first was in Rundle's room during the October 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair referred to in Rundle's claim. However, contrary to Rundle's claim, Davidar did not bully his way into her room nor did he force himself upon her," the statement had said.

"Two days later, Davidar and Rundle went to dinner at a restaurant. After dinner, Davidar kissed Rundle again, this time in his hotel room."
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