Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is reviewing its own security video of the verbal attack on CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt following a Toronto FC soccer game on Mother’s Day Sunday.
The video “will be an element of their investigation,” MLSE spokesperson Dave Haggith said on Wednesday. “Our security is in the process of investigating,”
The incident took place outside BMO Field and has already cost a Hydro One employee his job.
Haggith said that there are security cameras outside all MLSE facilities, including BMO Field.
He had no comment on whether MLSE has determined if the men are season’s ticket holders or how many men are under investigation.
Once they are identified, the men involved will be banned from all games and events at MLSE facilities for at least a year, Haggith said.
“The length of the ban is to be determined, but it will be a minimum of one year,” Haggith said.
CityNews journalist Avery Haines tweeted Wednesday that the broadcaster is consulting with Toronto police and the Attorney-General’s office on the possibility of criminal charges against the men.
Police and Attorney-General’s spokespeople had no comment Wednesday morning on any ongoing meetings.
“The Attorney General does not comment on whether legal advice is sought or provided,” ministry spokesperson Brendan Crawley said.
Hydro One employee Shawn Simoes was identified as one of the men seen making the vulgar comment in footage broadcast by CityNews. On Wednesday, was in the process of being fired from his $107,000 yearly job as an assistant network management engineer.
“The termination process has started and it’s ongoing,” Toronto Hydro spokesperson Daffyd Roderick said Wednesday. “It’s usually 24 to 48 hours.”
Roderick declined to give any other details on the firing, including whether Simoes belonged to a union.
The incident, which went viral, featured several bystanders mimicking a viral trend seen across North America, in which on-air reporters are harassed with the phrase, “F--- her right in the p----.”
Simoes, who made $106,510 last year according to Ontario’s Sunshine list, appears on-camera laughing alongside several other men.
The incident began while Hunt was taping interviews after the Toronto soccer club’s game. Two men “in a row” shouted the offensive phrase while passing by, she told the Star, and “I could hear these other guys conspiring to do it,” Hunt added.
Hunt confronted the group of men while the camera kept rolling, capturing the subsequent expletive-laden exchange.
“Were you guys waiting around to see if you could ‘F her in the P’ me live on TV?” Hunt asked on-camera.
“Not you, but yes,” one man said, while Hunt stood in front of him holding a microphone.
Another man later spoke to Hunt as a security guard lingered near the group. “This is f---ing hilarious. I don’t care what you say,” said the man, who has since been identified as Simoes, the Hydro One employee.
“Regarding the incident at the Toronto FC game between a (CityNews) reporter and fans, Hydro One is taking steps to terminate the employee involved for violating our Code of Conduct,” said Hydro One spokesperson Daffyd Roderick.
Hunt told the Star that it wasn’t her intention to get Simoes fired when she broadcast his remarks.
“Did I want someone to get fired from their job? No way,” she said. “He’s just an example. It’s not just him. It’s a lot of guys out there – and I want that to be known. His behaviour is echoed by many, many men out there.”
When Hunt asked Simoes on-camera how his mother would feel if she saw him talking like that, he responded, “Oh, my mom would die laughing, eventually.”
Simoes played soccer for Wilfrid Laurier University while attending the school during the early 2000s.
The university released a statement Monday condemning the “extremely offensive and discriminatory comments” at Sunday’s game.
“Laurier is deeply disappointed that Laurier alumni were associated with this incident,” it read.
The second man speaking to Hunt in the video has also been identified as a Laurier alumnus on social media. Others have said he is now an employee of Cognex Corporation, a manufacturing company with an office in Burlington. A LinkedIn profile matching the man’s description was recently deleted.
“While the individual was attending the event on his own time and was not at a Cognex activity, the views expressed are totally inconsistent with Cognex’s values, and we find such comments reprehensible,” said company spokesperson Sarah Laskowski. “We cannot comment on employee matters publicly, but we take this issue seriously and will be addressing it.”
Laskowski would not confirm the man’s name and she would not comment Wednesday morning about whether the employee had been fired or disciplined.
Toronto women’s right activist Laurell Ritchie emailed Cognex president and CEO Robert Willett to call for action against the employee.
“I hope you see fit to deal with his illegal action of inciting assault against women in the same way that Hydro One, one of our province’s largest employers, has dealt with another man involved in the taped incident,” Ritchie emailed. “This behaviour has to come to a full stop. You have a responsibility to the public as well as your shareholders.”
MLSE is also trying to identify other two passersby who initially used the vulgar phrase.
“We’re appalled that this trend of disrespectful behaviour would make its way to our city, let alone anywhere near our stadium,” MLSE said in a statement. “We are working to identify the individuals, and when we do they will be banned from all of our facilities.”
MLSE said it will also be working with local television outlets to provide extra security to female reporters doing live hits at any of its games.
The trend of shouting a vulgar phrase in a journalist’s microphone has plagued reporters — typically women — in various cities across North America for more than a year.
Hunt told the Star that reporters in Toronto are enduring this “almost on a daily basis.”
Morgan Dunlop, a reporter at CBC Montreal, recalled an incident last November while she was doing a live hit for CBC Toronto. “They kind of yelled it into the camera behind me,” Dunlop said, referring to the phrase often written out as ‘FHRITP.’
The trend stems from a series of viral videos made by an American filmmaker showing staged interactions between phony reporters and passersby.
But in the real world, pulling this stunt could do more than cost someone his job — it could also be illegal.
In Calgary, police issued a statement to broadcasters that the activity constitutes grounds for a charge and arrest, while Kingston police tweeted: “Our media partners should not have to deal with #FHRITP. Cause Disturbance seems to apply.”