Zviad Devdariani, the former head of Georgian non-governmental organisation CiDA, has said he will sue eight women for ‘violating his honour and dignity’. Devdariani has faced allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault from at least 10 women.
After being called for questioning at the Public Defender’s Office on Wednesday regarding the complaints against him, he called the women’s allegations ‘gossip’ and his lawyer promised the court-case would be ‘scandalous’.
‘This was an unfortunate mistake’, said Devdariani, adding that ‘it was a dirty campaign serving a single purpose’, to discredit his reputation. Speaking to journalists, he elaborated that he hoped the truth would be proved, which was why he was cooperating with the Interior Ministry and the Public Defender.
His lawyer Dimitri Gabunia told journalists the Public Defender’s Office was looking into four complaints against Devdariani, which were ‘just statements, lacking any kind of proof’. He said they will file cases in court against eight women on Friday.
‘It was an organised campaign aimed at convincing Devdariani to withdraw his candidacy for the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s (GPB) board of trustees’, said Gabunia, adding that they would name the women ‘who had voiced slanderous information’ after they filed the case in court tomorrow.
He claimed someone had ‘planned how to promote their own candidates for the GPB’s board of trustees contest’.
Gabunia dismissed an investigation into Devdariani on stalking charges, saying the accusations lacked evidence also given that ‘these cases are as old as three, four, five years’. He said it had been a month and a half since Devdariani was questioned and the Interior Ministry had not provided any updates since.
Devdariani, who had been an outspoken advocate of women's rights, has been accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault by at least 10 women, charges he denies.
Accusations emerged after he was nominated on 16 March for a spot on the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s (GPB) Board of Trustees by the Public Defender. A number of women posted accusations of harassment against him in a closed Facebook group for women’s rights activists. The Public Defender’s Office said they were unaware of the allegations when they nominated Devdariani.
The Public Defender later said that some stories shared by women about Devdariani may amount to ‘sexual abuse’.
Devdariani resigned as director of CiDA, who had initially released a statement in support of him, on 22 March.
In response to his resignation, CiDA said that ‘the Board of CiDA condemns sexual or any kind of harassment and violence and is concerned with the situation’, adding that they realised allegations against Devdariani ‘cast a shadow not only on the organisation but on civil society as a whole’.
[Read more about Devdariani’s case on OC Media: NGO head and women’s rights proponent ‘sexually assaulted women’]
On 3 April, Devdariani held a press briefing with his lawyer where he vowed to pursue legal means to ‘protect his dignity’, as he claimed the ‘court of Facebook’ had already found him guilty.
[Read more about Devdariani suing women who accuse him of sexual harassment on OC Media: Devdariani ‘to sue women’ who have accused him of sexual harassment’