“He said he imagined me without clothes”

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The leader of the Masonic Grand Lodge of the State of São Paulo, João José Xavier, is accused of sexual harassment and harassment by two former employees of the institution. The Grand Master is the target of three lawsuits filed by the two former employees, two in the Labor Court and one in the Civil Justice of the State of São Paulo. Wanted by EL PAÍS at the headquarters of masonry, Xavier did not return calls until the publication of this report. According to the person in charge of the institution’s communication, the Grand Master has not yet received a formal summons in the actions and the Grand Lodge legal area has guided silence, for the time being. Sexual harassment is a crime and, if convicted, can lead to up to two years in prison.


Headquarters of the Masonic Grand Lodge of the State of São Paulo.


© Reproduction (EL PAÍS)
Headquarters of the Masonic Grand Lodge of the State of São Paulo.


According to the testimony of a woman in the civil lawsuit for moral damages, which started that week, João José Xavier went to her table and called her to his office constantly to rub his body and make sexual insinuations. She worked as an administrative assistant at the Grand Lodge from 2001 to June this year. The harassment would have started in 2016, before Xavier rose to the top of the institution. He was elected Grand Master last year.

“He took my back, he massaged my shoulders, he usually hugged me, taking my breasts like that”, he says. According to the woman, the grand master said things like “and now blonde, and I grabbed you now, what were you going to do?”, And “wow, how hot you are today, come here!”

The former employee also says that she was obliged to clean and serve coffee in the chief’s office, jobs that were not in accordance with her role in the Masonic lodge. In the testimony attached to the action, he says he complained about the situation to colleagues and bosses, who were trying to offer comfort and advice, but nothing concrete was done to stop the harassment.

In the process, three witnesses confirm the harassment, which would have been carried out several times in front of other colleagues. The witnesses also claim that they saw her colleague cry several times after the attacks.

The second former employee who reported him worked at the Masonic lodge from 2017 to 2020 as a cleaning assistant. “I touched my breasts, my ass, said that I imagined myself without clothes, I felt very bad for that”, he says in the civil action of the former colleague. She says she felt powerless and very angry at the situation she was experiencing.

Both are married and say that they tolerated the situation for some time because they needed the job, were embarrassed by the harassment and never encouraged the boss’s behavior. The administrative assistant says she was fired after refusing an invitation from the boss to be alone with her in the office amid the relay adopted at the site due to covid-19 pandemic, disease caused by the new coronavirus. The cleaning assistant believes she was fired because the story leaked and the former boss tried to avoid a scandal.

The lawyer Cícero Barbosa dos Santos, who represents the two former employees of Freemasonry together with two other colleagues, says that the case was taken to the MP-SP (Public Ministry of São Paulo) this week and expects it to be criminally investigated there . He says they never registered a police report at the police station and chose to seek the MP directly. According to the lawyer, one of the women filed a civil and a labor lawsuit, totaling 239,000 reais. The second client charges 88,000 reais in the Labor Court.

Masonry

The Masonic Grand Lodge of the State of São Paulo has 23,000 members spread across 800 lodges, as local Masonry cells are called. Freemasonry is an association of private civil society organizations that has existed for many centuries around the world. Masonic lodges are generally organized in municipal nuclei that form one or more regional, state or national associations. There is no international lodge that coordinates all Freemasonry.

In Brazil, there are historical reports of the presence of Masonic lodges in Pernambuco as early as the 18th century. According to the most common definitions, Freemasonry is dedicated to philanthropy and actions of mutual educational, personal and professional assistance to its members.

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