What does it mean when a public relations firm accepts the task of sanitizing the image of two accused rapists?
Today, the Toronto Star reported that two Toronto doctors have hired public relations firm Navigator Ltd. “to massage the message” in the wake of being charged with gang sexual assault and administering a noxious substance. The men, Amitabh Chauhan and Suganthan Kayilasanathan, were arrested on February 18, 2011 for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman in a downtown Toronto hotel. They were granted bail yesterday after spending four days in Toronto’s Don Jail.
According to the company’s web site, Navigator Ltd. is the public relations firm to hire “When You Can’t Afford to Lose™” because they embrace a “winner takes all” approach when doing business. The site further states, “Our clients’ challenges are always unique, but they share one constant: the need to win in the court of public opinion.”
Chauhan and Kayilasanathan need to win. To that end, Navigator has wasted no time launching a campaign for these clients. To challenge what they characterize as “uninformed views and damaging opinion”, they arranged for the two men to give statements to the press outside the courthouse immediately after their release. The goal of this public relations campaign is to “sway perception” that may damage reputations in the case against Chauhan and Kayilasanathan.
This campaign has already swayed our perception; not away from the probable guilt of the accused men but toward a great repugnance for the firm representing them. As this case unfolds, we will be watching to see how an organization that boasts about corporate citizenship and charitable work further contributes to our community.
Update: On June 14, 2011, new sexual assault charges were filed against Amitabh Chauhan. According to a Toronto Police statement, 33-year-old Chauhan “has been charged with sexual assault and administering a drug for sex” and the alleged victim is a 21-year-old woman who “met up with a man in Kingston in the fall of 2003. Police allege the man put an unknown substance into the woman’s drink and then sexually assaulted her”.
Police say it’s believed there are other victims.
We could not locate any statements about these new charges from Navigator Ltd.
Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.