THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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National Post - June 4, 2010 - By Megan O'Toole - firstname.lastname@example.org
Hazing leader has gone into hiding: wife
HAMILTON — The man accused of encouraging staff he supervised to haze fellow employees — often by binding them with duct tape in humiliating positions — has effectively gone into hiding, his wife said on Thursday.
Domenic Galamini, who is at the centre of a growing controversy over ritual hazing within Mississauga’s transportation and works department, has taken the rest of the week off amid a public outcry, Viola Galamini explained from the driveway of their Hamilton home.
“He’s hiding out,” she said as her husband, who ignored an earlier series of knocks at the front door, waited inside their modest two-storey house on Goldwin Court.
Citing orders from the city, Ms. Galamini would not comment on the particulars of the hazing scandal, but said she and her husband both believe the matter has been blown out of proportion. No-one was fired in the incidents.
“There’s a lot more to the story,” Ms. Galamini said, declining to elaborate.
Neighbours described Mr. Galamini as a friendly man, with three young boys who spend a lot of time outdoors playing street hockey and basketball.
“He’s a good man. He’s a family man,” next-door neighbour Jonathan Spano said, noting he has trouble believing the allegations against Mr. Galamini: “He doesn’t seem like a man who would do this.”
City officials say they were aware of abuse allegations within Mississauga’s transportation and works department since last November, when employee Alex Juani lodged a complaint with human resources.
But the case gained public attention this week with the release of a cellphone video showing grown men bound with duct tape as they lie face to face on a work table. That prompted Peel police, who dismissed an earlier, “vague” complaint from Mr. Juani after determining it was not a criminal matter, to reopen their investigation.
“Now that the video’s out we have to look into it,” Constable Wayne Patterson said. “We don’t know who shot the video, who gave the video to the media, who was there … [and] were they willing participants in what was going on?”
Mayor Hazel McCallion said Peel’s chief of police will brief council on the investigation’s progress next week at an in camera session.
When the alleged abuse was brought to the city’s attention in November, officials hired Dean Benard, who works for a Waterloo-based firm specializing in conflict resolution, to launch an investigation.
Mr. Benard released a report in March detailing numerous instances of hazing at the Mavis Road sign shop where Mr. Juani and Mr. Galamini worked.
In one case, an employee was bound with duct tape and put on a truck that went through the wash bay; another received a series of birthday whacks, including punches to the face and groin.
“If the respondent feels the hit is not hard enough, the person is instructed to hit again,” the report states.
Transportation and works staff interviewed yesterday at the work yard and sign shop bristled at the mention of Mr. Galamini and the hazing scandal, referring all questions to City Hall. About two dozen staff work in the sign unit; Mr. Galamini has been employed with the city for more than 20 years.
Ms. McCallion said the disciplinary action taken in this case — a stern warning to those involved in the hazing — may be revisited, depending on what police find.
“You don’t rule out firing but you’d better have justification for it,” she said.
A day earlier, the Mayor had said the city could find itself in legal trouble if it fired anyone responsible for the hazing incidents, considering Mr. Benard’s report “clearly demonstrated” such action was not warranted.
While Mr. Benard would not comment on specifics of the investigation, he said in general it was not his job to offer advice on personnel matters.
“Our job is to be a neutral, unbiased fact-finder … [but] I don’t tell the client that they should discipline employees a certain way, or discipline them at all.”
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