In a subsequent meeting in late December, the board decided to put Tesfaye Ayalew on paid administrative leave for one month starting on Jan. 12 while the investigation is ongoing.

By Catherine Griwkowsky (Edmonton Journal)

EDMONTON, AB―The executive director of the Africa Center has been placed on administrative leave following allegations of abuse and sexual harassment by four separate women. Through a Saturday email from his lawyer, Tesfaye Ayalew is denying the allegations.

Speaking on behalf of the board of directors, chairman John Gaye said in an interview that the Africa Center was made aware of the allegations when the center’s accountant resigned. The Africa Center is a social service organization that supports African immigrants and refugee families to address barriers and challenges to integration.

“The Africa Center board received a letter from our accountant resigning due to abuse and sexual harassment,” Gaye said. “Upon receipt of the letter, we had an emergency meeting and we resolved to hire the services of an independent investigator.”

In a subsequent meeting in late December, the board decided to put Tesfaye Ayalew on paid administrative leave for one month starting on Jan. 12 while the investigation is ongoing. They have hired lawyer Arman Chak to conduct the investigation.

The board also received a letter from community leaders informing the board that there were three other women stating they were abused by Tesfaye Ayalew, but the complaint has not been brought formally before the board, although the accountant’s letter said she was not the only one who has left the Africa Center due to abuse and harassment, Gaye said.

Tesfaye Ayalew’s lawyer, David McCalla, sent an e-mailed statement on behalf of his client, who is denying the allegations.

“Mr. Ayalew denies the allegations, which he believes are part of a different agenda, and looks forward to the opportunity to clear his name in a fair and open process,” an emailed statement sent on Saturday reads. “Mr. Ayalew is concerned as well about the potential for damage to the reputation of the Africa Center, to which he has given the last nine years of his life.”

Continue reading this story at Edmonton Journal
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