British Columbia

Port Moody mayor's sex assault charge could end up being stayed

A special prosecutor has agreed to consider extrajudicial "alternative measures" for Rob Vagramov, who was charged with sex assault relating to an alleged offence in 2015.

Special prosecutor agrees to consider extrajudicial 'alternative measures' for Rob Vagramov

Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov speaks to media after his first day back at city hall in Port Moody, British Columbia on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov's sexual assault case has been adjourned to allow for a consideration of alternative measures which could result in the charge being stayed, according to the B.C. Prosecution Service.

Vagramov's lawyer and a special prosecutor were in Port Coquitlam Provincial Court Thursday morning where a next appearance has been set for Nov. 13.

"In the interim, Mr. Vagramov will meet with a probation officer who will prepare a report for the Special Prosecutor's consideration.

"The prosecution will be concluded if Mr. Vagramov is approved for alternative measures and completes an approved resolution agreement," said BCPS communications counsel Dan McLaughlin.

Vagramov would not end up with a criminal record if the sex assault charge is stayed. The charge relates to an alleged offence in 2015 when he was a Port Moody city councillor.

Outside of the courthouse, defence lawyer Ian Donalsdon said an extrajudicial resolution would benefit everyone.

Rob Vagramov (front row, centre) announced he was returning to work on Sept. 9 after taking a five month leave to deal with a sex assault charge that remains unresolved. (City of Port Moody)

"[These] processes are effective, they're good for the court and they're good for the public," he said.

Members of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter attended Thursday's proceedings to show support for the victim. 

"We don't know the particulars of the case," said rape crisis worker Sophia Hladek. "What I do know is that the charge approval threshold is quite high in British Columbia and charges are only approved when there is a substantial likelihood of conviction. So, I take it as very serious that he was charged with sexual assault."

Back on the job

On Monday, Vagramov announced he was returning to active duty as mayor after a five month leave to deal with the sexual assault charge.

Rob Vagramov, the mayor of Port Moody, B.C., announced his return to office following a five-month leave. The Crown has decided to proceed on Vagramov's sexual assault charge as a summary or less serious offence. 2:15

He indicated to the media his case had been reduced to a "summary matter" which could potentially result in a quick resolution that would not involve a trial. 

However, Port Moody Coun. Diana Dilworth said in light of Thursday's development, his return seems premature. 

"I'm quite disappointed," said Dilworth.  "Mayor Vagramov made a commitment to take a leave of absence until such time as his legal issue was resolved."

"Nothing has changed. It hasn't been resolved and our community — the residents I've heard from — feel betrayed. 

Guidelines for alternative measures

According to Crown counsel guidelines, certain sex assault offences may be referred for alternative measures if the following conditions are met:

  • The victim has been consulted and the victim's views considered.
  • The victim has been made aware of available victim assistance programs.
  • The accused has no apparent history of violence or sexual offences.
  • An alternative measure is not contrary to the public interest.

 

With files from Andrea Ross