Skip to content

Businessman's joke made others uncomfortable, trial hears

'I’ve never seen her move that fast. At the time, I just thought she was late for another meeting,' complainant's colleague testifies on Day 2 of Paul Sadlon's sexual assault trial
Paul Sadlon is shown a file photo from May 2019. Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

Editor’s note: The following contains graphic language heard in court that could be disturbing for some readers. There is also a publication ban limiting BarrieToday’s ability to report details about the company involved and specifics about its business dealings.

Paul Sadlon’s “attempt to be humorous” came unexpectedly during small talk following a business meeting, the Barrie car dealer’s sexual assault trial heard on its second day.

A business manager told the court on Tuesday that, during a meeting he and two colleagues had with Sadlon along with one of the dealership's employees, the car dealer made a reference to a pussy cat and a house.

“We tried to deflect it,” the business manager testified at the Barrie courthouse, adding he understood the comment was “bringing some direction to the female form.”

Sadlon, now 89 and appearing frail, pleaded not guilty Monday of sexually assaulting a woman immediately after the Dec. 4, 2019 meeting in the lunchroom at Paul Sadlon Motors on Bayfield Street.

The woman told the court on Monday that, during the meeting, Sadlon “put his hand on my arm and made a joke about having another pussy around the house to pet.”

And when her colleagues and the employee left the room, she testified Sadlon initiated a hug, kissed her cheek and then her lips, tried to stick his tongue in her mouth, and grabbed her left breast while rubbing his pelvic area against her.

She testified that she was unable to leave the room with the others because Sadlon stood in the way of the door.

A publication ban prohibits reporting any information that could identify the woman. As a result, BarrieToday is limited in its ability to publish details heard in court about the company involved and specifics about its business dealings.

The business manager testified on Tuesday that he believed Sadlon was trying to be jovial by making jokes, but he got the sense that it made the complainant and Sadlon’s employee  the only two women in the room  feel uncomfortable. 

It caught him off guard and he responded by saying “at least it wasn’t a gerbil.”

When asked by Crown attorney Miriam Villamil-Pallister how important Sadlon’s business was to the company, the business manager said Sadlon would have ranked among the top six or seven clients.

Sadlon is the namesake for Barrie’s Sadlon Arena and Georgian College's Sadlon Centre for Health and Wellness.

Under cross-examination by Karen Jokinen, one of Sadlon’s defence lawyers, the business manager said he didn’t see Sadlon put his hand on his female colleague from where he was sitting.

He also denied making any comment as the complainant emerged from the meeting later about the encounter being not so bad because she still had her coat on, as the complainant testified during the trial’s first day.

A commercial manager was the third employee of that business attending the meeting. He told the court Sadlon made a comment about a bald pussycat, which he understood to refer to a female's shaved genitalia.

“To try to bring the conversation back to some normalcy, I made a comment about a hairless cat,” the commercial manager testified.

After he and the business manager left the lunchroom, they briefly stopped to talk to Sadlon's son, Paul Sadlon Jr. A short time later, the complainant quickly rushed by.

“I’ve never seen her move that fast,” the commercial manager said, adding he followed shortly after, but didn’t see her outside. “At the time, I just thought she was late for another meeting.”

Under Jokinen’s cross-examination, the commercial manager said he didn’t see Sadlon touch the complainant and he also denied making a comment about the complainant still having her coat on as she left the building.

On Monday, the complainant testified that, apart from a note she sent to her supervisor that night, she didn’t tell her husband or anyone else about the event involving Sadlon due to confidentiality concerns.

Taking the witness stand Tuesday, her supervisor said confidentiality about individual clients and their business is top of mind.

“There was extreme expectation of confidentiality,” he said, adding that outside of the walls of the business, employees are expected not to talk about clients, and that extends to friends and family.

When asked by Villamil-Pallister if Sadlon had made any complaints about the complainant’s handling of his account, he responded “no.”

The trial continues on Wednesday.