Calista CEO Says That He Handled Sexual Harassment Claim Appropriately

Jun 7, 2018

CEO Andrew Guy says that he was unaware that George Owletuck had sexually harassed anyone until October 2017.
Credit Courtesy of Calista Corporation.

The Calista Corporation's CEO decided to take his case directly to the public this week. Accompanied by a board member, a public relations expert, and an attorney, he sat down with KYUK to tell his side of the corporation's power struggle, which has split the corporation’s Board of Directors and devolved into name-calling and litigation.

Calista’s ongoing conflict centers on how CEO Andrew Guy handled a sexual harassment complaint against an old friend. Former Calista board chairman Wayne Don claims that Guy buried the allegations, violating the company’s code of conduct. Guy and his supporters say that Don is twisting what happened to get more power.

Guy has worked for Calista for 30 years and knows its code of conduct backwards and forwards; he helped write it while serving as the corporation's General Counsel. "We have a culture of not condoning any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment," he said. "It comes from my upbringing from the village where respect is premium. We have to have respect in order to have a good team work, for the family, for the community, even for the individual."

Guy has known George Owletuck for a long time too. The two met in college and have been close; Guy is Owletuck’s daughter’s godfather. In 2014, Calista hired Owletuck to serve as the corporation’s government relations liaison, and Guy was involved in the hiring process.

"I was part of the interviewing group," he said. "He did really well because of his prior experience at both the federal and state arenas. And that's why he was hired."

Owletuck has since been accused of mismanaging funds, most significantly in Newtok. But it was Owletuck’s behavior towards a woman who was trying to sell her business to Calista that ended his career at the corporation. Calista hired an investigator to look into the incident and fired Owletuck at the end of last year.

The question that has divided the board is what Guy knew about Owletuck and when he knew it. Guy says that he didn’t know anything. He didn’t know that his old friend may have mismanaged funds in Newtok, and he says that he didn’t know Owletuck had harassed women at Calista before. "George was not my direct report," he said. "So unless a person was my direct report, I wouldn’t be involved."

Guy says that he didn’t know Owletuck had sexually harassed anyone until October 2017, when Calista Human Resources Director Heather Spear initiated the investigation into Owletuck’s misconduct toward the business owner. But whether Guy’s claim is true is in dispute. According to a memo written by Heather Spear in November 2017, Owletuck started making women uncomfortable at Calista almost as soon as he was hired. Calista disciplined him five times for inappropriate behavior, which ranged from making inappropriate comments to women in the office to taking credit for a woman’s work. According to Spear’s memo, Andrew Guy was aware of almost all of it.

KYUK showed the Spear memo to Guy and his attorney in our interview and pointed out several instances in which Spear wrote that Guy was informed of Owletuck's past harassment. Guy said that he didn't recognize the document. "I don’t remember these," he said of the incidents itemized in the memo. "He wasn't my direct report."

Guy might not have had the opportunity to see the Spear memo before this interview. Attorneys representing Wayne Don say that they excerpted the memo in multiple documents over the past few months and gave it to Calista in court on Monday morning. Representatives of Calista claimed that they had never seen it before.

On Wednesday night, KYUK forwarded the memo to Calista’s new public relations expert, Charles Fedullo, at his request and later received a call from him. He was joined on the phone by two of Calista’s attorneys, Walter Featherly and Matthew Singer. In that conversation, the attorneys said that a lot of what Spear had written in this memo just wasn't true. Featherly reiterated that Guy was not aware of Owletuck’s past harassment of women, and he said that Spear had not written the truth when she said otherwise. Attorney Singer asserted that Wayne Don had heavily pressured Spear to write the memo.

While he says that he didn’t know about any of Owletuck’s previous harassment, Guy did know that the business owner had issues with his friend. On August 29, 2017, according to the court documents, the woman told Guy that Owletuck had sent her over 1,100 text messages in about a month. He’d also shown up at her house in the Lower 48, even after she told him to stay away from her.

Guy apologized to her and said that she wouldn’t have to deal with Owletuck again. He put her in touch with another point person at Calista, but he didn't report the incident to Human Resources. Calista’s code of conduct requires employees to report harassment and sexual harassment; Guy says that he didn’t report it because he didn’t think he needed to.

"In the process of that conversation, she never brought up anything that would have prompted me to go to legal or HR," he said.

Guy acknowledged that sending someone 1,100 text messages and showing up at his or her house without permission constituted harassment. He also said that the woman didn't want to make a complaint against Owletuck, which impacted how he chose to handle the situation. "She said she didn't want to get George in trouble," Guy said.

Guy’s critics claim that Heather Spear’s memo is accurate, that Guy knew Owletuck had sexually harassed women before, and that Guy knew Owletuck had sexually harassed the business owner too. Former Calista board chair Wayne Don and his supporters claim that Guy mishandled the business owner’s complaint to protect a longtime political ally and friend. When Don tried to bring his concerns to Calista’s Board of Directors and present Spear’s memo and other documents to them, he was shut down. The board has been trying to push him out of the company ever since.

Board member Willie Kasayulie joined Guy in his interview with KYUK. He stressed that Don completely overstepped his authority as board chair when he tried to raise these issues. "The bylaws are very clear on the responsibilities of the chairman," said Kasayulie, who has chaired Calista's Board of Directors himself. "His responsibilities are to conduct board meetings and to conduct the annual shareholders meetings. That is the responsibility of any chair in this company and that's it."

Last month, Calista filed a lawsuit against Don to forcibly remove him from its Board of Directors. A motion in that lawsuit was thrown out earlier this week, but Guy confirms that the corporation is still pursuing legal action against Don.

In the meantime, two sources close to the Owletuck family say that George Owletuck has left the country. Guy has heard that too, but doesn’t know why. Guy talked to Owletuck last November when Calista fired him, and he says that he hasn’t been in touch with his friend since. He added that Owletuck's decision to leave the country doesn't have anything to do with his past work at Calista.