Mayor apologizes for online comments regarding resident’s dispute with sex workers

April 29, 2021   ·   0 Comments

During Question Period of Orangeville Council’s April 26 meeting, there was a unique encounter between long time Orangeville resident, Tracey Newman and Mayor Sandy Brown, leading to an apology. 

In an emotional plea to Council, Newman shared that at approximately 6:00 p.m. on Saturday (April 24) three women showed up in a car at her neighbours’ residence, blocking their driveway and stated that they were sent to the address by someone who ordered sexual services online, before demanding that they be paid.

“My neighbour who was quite disturbed, upset and scared, crossed the street to come to where my husband was working on his car outside, at which time my son who was sitting in his car, having a cigarette, got out and checked out what was happening,” said Newman.

“He came inside the house panicked, telling me that there was a situation in front of our house, I went outside to find three women who were self-identifying themselves as prostitutes, who were attempting to extort money from myself, my husband, our neighbour, and refusing to leave our premises.”

Newman said they became increasingly aggressive towards her son and at this point she called 9-1-1 and an OPP officer arrived. 

The sex workers shared with the officer why they travelled to Orangeville but refused to identify themselves and continued yelling and screaming at the Newman family. 

“The entire time that this transaction was taking place, the women were taking pictures of us, they were taking pictures of our house, they were taking pictures of our cars and pictures of our license plates,” Newman recalled. “We left feeling very unsatisfied with the result that happened with the OPP. I have addressed that directly with the OPP and have since been satisfied by the response of the supervisor that I spoke to.”

However, in the moment, Newman says her family was quite scared for their safety. They also had concerns that the sex workers or their colleagues may return to her address to cause farther stress and duress.

After Newman explained the story, she asked for an apology from Mayor Brown for his comments on her Facebook Post. Newman’s post said, “Did you know there are apps where you can order 3 prostitutes to your house? As I called 911 to get the 3 screaming psychos off my front lawn because I am refusing to give them $250, I learned that this is a thing……who knew!”

In the comment section of Newman’s post, Mayor Brown commented: “What is troubling here is the lack of empathy over the predicament of sex trade workers. The post demonized them. People were calling for them to be charged. The OPP de-escalated the situation and likely helped these women. Good job again OPP.”

During Newman’s request for an apology she said, “Instead of defending a resident in this community, who was quite scared and quite upset in a situation that had to accelerate to a 9-1-1 call frantically pleading for assistance from an OPP officer, you defended the women who identified that they did not live in this community, they stated that they had come a long way and that they would not leave without money in their hands.

“Instead of defending the sanctity and security of the residents, who you decided to run for and agreed to represent when you accepted the position you were elected into as mayor,” she added. ”I’m further disturbed that in a response to you via an email, you stated, you alleged that the variation of the stories that I related to you, to my friends, to whomever I chose to relate, wasn’t necessarily accurate.”

Mayor Brown thanked Newman for her comments and said it certainly sounded like a difficult situation, but those in the sex trade also find themselves in very difficult situations and deserve empathy.

“I did not in any way detract from the concern of what happened to you.  I did mention that these people have got trouble, they’ve got problems as well, and we should be somewhat empathetic to those sex trade workers who have a very difficult life,” he remarked. “That’s really all I’ve got to say on this.”

Newman responded by stating that her email exchanges with Mayor Brown regarding the incident were dramatically different than his response at Council and again asked for him to apologize for the comments he made about a situation that was extremely scary for her family.

In response, Mayor Brown said, “Yes, Miss Newman, I would like to apologize to you if you took my comments in a personal way, I was just trying to direct attention that those people that are in that line of work have a very difficult time.

“We don’t know the circumstances. I don’t know the circumstances… so again, my apologies. What I posted… it wasn’t meant to be hurtful to you at all. It was just I felt that the way that the post went out, it needed another side to the story with those women that were involved in,” he added.

Newman thanked Mayor Brown for acknowledging that his comments were offensive and in her final remarks, suggested that he make a personal Facebook account that is separate from his position as mayor.

“I believe that everybody has the ability to speak freely, and I would never ever suggest that, that be muted. However, when you use a personal Facebook account, both for the reasons of business of the Town of Orangeville and your own personal opinions, those might tend to get blurred,” she said. “I would request that you consider creating an independent Facebook profile for your position as the mayor of Orangeville to eliminate any type of conflict like this on a moving forward basis.”

At this point Mayor Brown said he appreciated the recommendation, but ultimately said he’ll keep his social media accounts as is.

“It’s very difficult to separate myself in another Facebook account, so I will take your advice under advisement and we’ll see, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve got a couple of Facebook accounts and if I make a post, you know it will be perceived as coming from the Mayor, but thank you. Thank you for that recommendation,” he remarked.

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