2019 Harassment Response

cheryl head

For Your Information.  The New England Crime Bake coordination committee seems to have acted quickly, but the offender's apology is lackluster. ch
---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: The Crime Bake Committee <contact@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 12, 2019 at 4:17 PM
Subject: 2019 Harassment Response
To: <cheadwrites@...>

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November 12, 2019

At the close of the New England Crime Bake conference on November 10, it was brought to the attention of the organizing committee that inappropriate and discriminatory comments were made by Paul Zambella, a presenter at the conference. In the course of presenting on the topic of crime scene investigation, Mr. Zambella moved beyond the technical aspects of a murder case he investigated as a forensic scientist for the Massachusetts State Police to a discussion of the gender identity and expression of a defendant. His remarks were interpreted by multiple attendees as suggesting that transgender identity is linked to criminality.

The committee discussed the incident immediately after receiving the complaints and has issued the following statement: 

The organizing committee for New England Crime Bake has a zero-tolerance policy in regard to violations of its anti-harassment statement. It was printed in the conference booklet and is about to be posted on our web site. It reads: We are dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all attendees, regardless of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, body type or veteran status. We will not tolerate any kind of discrimination or harassment and encourage anyone who believes they have experienced or witnessed discriminatory or harassing behavior to report it to a member of the Crime Bake committee. 

After discussion with multiple first hand witnesses, the Crime Bake committee believes Mr. Zambella’s presentation violated this policy. His discussion of a criminal defendant’s transgender identity was not relevant to his topic.

The committee has apologized directly to the several attendees who brought this behavior to our attention. We also apologize to the community at large.

The committee has contacted Mr. Zambella to express our disapproval of his comments. We reiterated Crime Bake’s zero-tolerance policy and asked for his response.

Mr. Zambella has replied with the following statement: “Thank you for making me aware of this situation. My discussion of the transgenderism of Dr. Sharpe was a significant part of the relationship between Dr. Sharpe and his wife which, it is believed, ultimately led to her murder. It certainly was not my intention to offend anyone by presenting Dr. Sharpe in this light, only presenting the facts as related to this particular case. If people will feel better with an apology from me, then they have it. Let me end by stating that, in the eight years that this program has been presented, this is the first time that a complaint of this nature has been brought to my attention.”

New England Crime Bake is committed to creating a safe space for all attendees, free of harassment and discrimination. We pledge to work harder in the future to ensure all presenters are made aware of and understand our policy. The committee will be diligent in engaging only those presenters and panelists who share our commitment to it. We welcome your comments at contact@....

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Cheryl Head
Author, Charlie Mack Motown Mysteries
Director of Inclusion, Golden Crown Literary Society

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