A Kelowna man who has been widely accused of hurling insults at a nine-year-old girl and her mothers at a district track meet is speaking out.
Over the weekend on social media, and Monday to Castanet News, the mothers alleged that Josef Tesar publicly questioned the gender of their nine-year-old daughter right before she was about to participate in shot-put at the Apple Bowl.
Mother Heidi Starr claims Tesar shouted "Hey, this is supposed to be a girls' event, and why are you letting boys compete."
Starr also claims Tesar said, "Well, if she is not a boy, then she is obviously trans."
Starr's daughter is female and identifies as a girl. She has a pixie haircut.
Tesar denies the allegations.
The Kelowna resident, in a written statement read aloud to Castanet News, says he was watching his granddaughter compete when he noticed what he thought was a boy ready to compete.
He says he walked over to an official to ask if the event was co-ed.
"I never yelled towards the girl. I went to the official in private and asked one only question if this a mixed competition" he said.
Tesar said he was told the event was "girls only." He said he replied to the official that he thought there was a boy in line with the other competitors.
"As I was walking away from the official, a woman saying 'I'm her mother' and [she was] yelling, and swearing at me and offering if I want to see [the girl] naked, or if I want to see her genitals," he continued.
"I said 'No, the certificate is OK.' That's all I said. I never pointed to another girl and said she's obviously trans. That is a big lie as well."
Starr has claimed Tesar demanded certification to prove that her daughter was born female. Starr also claims that Tesar's wife Krista yelled out at her calling her a "genital mutilator, a groomer, and a pedophile."
"I said something appropriate. Not those words. ... Maybe something like 'F off,'" Krista Tesar said Tuesday.
Josef tells Castanet he believes the two moms are trying to "satisfy an agenda."
"The two mothers of the cisgendered girl — this is their pronunciation, I personally don't know even what that means," he said.
"That word is not in my vocabulary. [They] fabricate the lies and hate towards us. I never yelled towards the girl. I went to the official in private and asked one question."
Tesar says he contacted the principal of the school where the girl reportedly attends to share his perspective of how things went down.
"I had the conversation with the principal. He said, 'Josef what you are telling us is exactly what I'm confirming with the teachers and officials,'" Tesar said.
"My wife never called the mother anything."
Principal Robbie Franklin confirmed with Castanet that he did speak with Tesar over the phone after the incident.
"He called and did express an apology. I listened to what he explained. So I wasn't at the event and what I heard was second-hand accounts from other people including himself and what he expressed to me," Franklin said.
"I shared that information with people within the district and they are the ones right now connecting with the first-hand witnesses."
Central Okanagan School District Supt. Kevin Kaardal confirms Tesar did call principal Franklin to share his side of the story.
"The principal listened to him. We often listen to people and try to deal with it — de-escalate. We are still investigating," Kaardal said.
"He was belligerent enough and tense enough. I have heard from the principal that they had to move the event to the other side of the field. To me it is about governing your behaviour. What's he doing talking to a Grade 4 student who is nine years old — two of them. I don't understand that. It is a big problem and it did traumatize the kids."
Tesar says he stands behind his question about whether the event was co-ed.
"I am not apologizing for that question that I asked. I think personally I have a right to ask questions, and I always will for rest of my life," he said.
"The mothers should apologize to me for offering and asking me if I want to see their daughter naked and genitals in front of the public and for their false statement and defamation of character."
The Kelowna RCMP said in a statement Tuesday they are investigating the incident.
"The Kelowna Regional RCMP detachment has received a number of messages from concerned citizens about an incident that took place at a regional elementary track and field day last week. We too share everyone’s grave concerns with discriminatory behaviour," said Const. Mike Della-Paolera.
Della-Paolera said that due to the Privacy Act, no more information will be released at this time.
"We want to encourage you to continue to be a strong voice and to show your ally ship, support, public positions and commitment to diversity and inclusion. It is important to our community to speak out against discriminatory behaviours, and research shows that social support is an important protective factor for those experiencing marginalization, racism, or discrimination," he said.
"We understand that this incident, and the ongoing discussion on social media can be difficult. There are a number of services and programs available at Kelowna Community Resources should you need help."
The incident has attracted coverage from outlets in the U.S. and the U.K. and resulted in numerous statements of condemnation from local community leaders and politicians. Tesar has a son who shares his name and has been dealing with angry calls despite not being involved in the incident at all.
"This is awful. This kind of hate is not acceptable or welcome in British Columbia," B.C. Premier David Eby tweeted on Tuesday in response to the incident.
"Let's keep calling out transphobia when we see it. Hate hurts everyone. And let's stand with this girl and everyone who is targeted just for being themselves."