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Laurier-Dorion MNA Gerry Sklavounos leaves Liberal caucus amid allegations
The Liberal MNA for Laurier-Dorion has left the Liberal caucus temporarily amid allegations of sexual assault.
Gerry Sklavounos met with Premier Philippe Couillard and will be leaving the Liberal caucus, a spokesperson for the premier confirmed to CTV Montreal. He will sit as an independent MNA.
"Given the information that has been published in the media implicating him in a sexual assault complaint, I announce that the member for Laurier-Dorion… is removed from caucus and will sit as an independent member as of this date. The appointment of a new incumbent to the position of Deputy Government House Leader will be announced in the coming days," the premier's office wrote in a statement Thursday evening.
So far no charges have been laid against Sklavounos, and nothing has been proven in court. Sklavounos told the Journal de Montreal he is "completely innocent."
The accusations against a Liberal MNA came to light Wednesday evening at a vigil against sexual assault at Laval University, where four women were sexually assaulted over the weekend.
At the vigil, the woman said that two years ago, she was sexually assaulted by an MNA while working at a restaurant.
She said the incident took place in 2014 and that she reported it to police a year later but that the investigation went nowhere.
"This man, who I will not name but who presently sits as an MNA in the National Assembly, seemingly found me to be his taste. This man sexually assaulted me, at my workplace. And today, he is still making decisions," she said.
"He not only hurt me physically, but psychologically, for the rest of my life."
The young woman's friend told a Quebec City radio station she had to go to hospital because of her injuries after the alleged assault.
The woman said that she lost her job because of the incident, and said that the MNA was a friend of the restaurant's owner.
“We want to protect the abuser because he has a seat in the National Assembly, because he’s an important man, because his career is more important than what I've experienced,” said the young woman,” he said.
Reacting to the news on Thursday, Couillard said he was troubled by the serious accusations.
“I have a daughter, I have a granddaughter. To me, this is something personally important,” he said. "I'm not the police, I'm not a judge, I'm not even a lawyer but I just want to tell Quebecers that to me this is not just significant, but crucially important for our society.”
"I was there last night when I heard that young woman talking about the aggression she lived. And it really troubled me. My heart stopped when she said that it was an MNA," said CAQ MNA Nathalie Roy. "I want to tell that young woman she has a lot of courage to say that and I want to tell her that we heard her and she's not alone."
Quebec Solidaire is calling for the MNA's resignation, saying the allegations against Sklavounos are too serious for him to keep his seat at the National Assembly.
PQ leader Parti Quebecois Jean-Francois Lisée wanted to know why the woman felt the investigation had stopped.
"Go back to the police, and if you can't go back to the police tell us why," said Lisée. "We have to create a situation where every victim of aggression knows she's safe going to the police. That's absolutely essential."
Quebec City police say they received a complaint in March 2016 about an incident that may have occurred in 2014, and are hoping to speak with the accuser.
The department said the allegations she was discouraged from making that complaint are new, adding that they say that goes against the values of the department.
"Those things are not the values of the Quebec City police department. That's the reason we need the contribution of the victim - to know where it happened, when, who was the person who told her that, because it's very important for us," said Pierre Poirier of the Quebec City police.