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#MeToo: BCCI Yet to Act on Allegations of Sexual Assault Against CEO Rahul Johri

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#MeToo movement hit the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) when its CEO Rahul Johri was accused of sexual assault by a woman who worked with him at Discovery Network Asia Pacific.
BCCI CEO Rahul Johri who has been accused of sexual assault

There has been no response or explanation by BCCI CEO Rahul Johri on the allegation of sexual assault, and voices are rising within the Board of Control for Cricket in India, criticising the way the whole episode is being handled (Pic: IANS).

Despite mounting pressure to take action, the Committee of Administrators (CoA) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is yet to address the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct lodged against Board CEO Rahul Johri.

The #MeToo movement hit BCCI when Johri was accused of sexual assault by a woman who worked with him at Discovery Network Asia Pacific. Johri, who was the executive vice-president and general manager (South Asia) for Discovery, before joining the BCCI as its CEO in 2016, was accused of taking advantage of the woman by offering a job. He was named in a Twitter post by author Harnidh Kaur, who shared screenshots of a detailed account by the survivor, narrating the harassment incident on her Twitter handle @PedestrianPoet.

The CoA, appointed by the Supreme Court to run the Board, is a two-member committee now comprising of Vinod Rai and former Indian women’s team skipper Diana Edulji. The committee asked for an explanation from Johri, the deadline for which expired on October 20.

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With no word from neither the CoA nor Johri, voices are rising within the BCCI, criticising the way the whole episode is being handled. PTI, in a report, quoted top BCCI officials, who felt that the sexual harassment allegations against Johri should have been probed by an independent panel.

“I would like to know why the CoA is not maintaining transparency in its probe? These are serious allegations and an independent body should have been appointed by the CoA for an impartial probe,” a senior official said. “Why should we as well as a lot of BCCI employees believe in the CoA probe? Johri has been reporting to CoA and it was only fair that they should have recused themselves from the probe. The CoA is violating the basic principles of transparency that Lodha Panel wanted BCCI to follow.”

CoA head Rai, former Comptroller and Auditor General, has been silent on the matter, while BCCI’s Internal Complaints Committee member, advocate Karina Kriplani, has so far refused to confirm whether Johri has given a reply or explanation on the allegation.

“This is a legal matter and I won’t comment on this,” said Kriplani.

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This is not the first time the CoA has been reluctant to act on allegations of sexual misconduct within the BCCI. It, allegedly, hushed up another complaint of sexual harassment against Johri by one of BCCI’s own employee.

A senior BCCI official privy of that incident, was quoted by The Print that Johri had sexually suggestive interactions with the woman who levelled the complaint. “She said he [Johri] did not touch me, but when I asked her if there were sexual overtones in the manner in which he spoke, she said, ‘very much’. She said if she had even given so much as a finger to him, it could have gone to the next level,” the official said.

The Committee’s Action

On October 13, the CoA, reacting to the allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against Johri, asked him to submit an explanation within a week.

“There are certain media reports today, including in the social media, pertaining to Mr. Rahul Johri, CEO BCCI. The reports disclose allegations of sexual harassment made against Mr. Johri, by an unnamed person through a twitter handle,” the CoA said in a statement at the time.

“The allegations also relates to his previous employment with a large media house. The allegations have appeared as a part of the ‘me too’ movement,” the CoA statement added.

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“Though the said allegations do not pertain to his employment with the BCCI, the Committee of Administrators of the BCCI has deemed it appropriate to seek an explanation from Mr. Johri in relation to the allegations. He has been asked to submit his explanation within a week. Future course of action will be considered on receipt of his explanation.”

The Allegation

In her allegation, the survivor said Johri had taken her to his home where he said “the final part” of an interview would take place.

“Rahul Johri: Currently the CEO of BCCI - Ex Discovery Channel. Rahul was an ex-colleague. Through the times of partying at Raj's house, then building a successful media business, and then wading through other channels — Rahul kept in touch with me,” read the screenshot on author Kaur's Twitter handle.

had emails sent about a BUNCH of head honchos in media. survivor has asked to not put out all the names. Rahul Johari, your #timesup #metoo

— hk {on a hiatus} (@PedestrianPoet) October 12, 2018

During a discussion on a possible job opening, Johri asked the survivor to accompany him to his home. The woman didn’t find that suggestion odd as she was expecting Johri’s wife to be present. The survivor knew Johri’s wife, having invited the couple to her home for dinner on an earlier occasion.

But when they reached Johri’s house, she realised his wife was not home. In the house, after she asked for water, he came to her with his pants down and assaulted her.

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“Till date I have borne the burden of this sordid incident, blaming myself for this — I have wondered if I had showed I was needy, I don't think so — but it's all hazy and confused in my head,” the survivor wrote in the Twitter post.

“For years, I have told myself — that was so cheap of me — but the truth is, it was so sudden and so manipulated that I had no chance at even knowing what the hell this was.”

(With inputs from IANS)

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