British Columbia

Port Moody mayor taking another leave of absence over sexual assault charge

Vagramov was originally charged with sexual assault in March — stemming from an incident in 2015 — and took a leave of absence.

Rob Vagramov was charged in March but returned to the job in September

Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov speaks during a news conference after being charged with sexual assault on March 28, 2019. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Port Moody, B.C., Mayor Rob Vagramov says he will take another unpaid leave of absence while his sexual assault charge remains unresolved. 

He announced his decision Tuesday night during a meeting at city hall. His leave will begin at the end of the day on Friday.

Vagramov was originally charged with sexual assault in March — stemming from an incident in 2015 — and then took a leave of absence. But he returned to the job in September with the case still working its way through the court system. 

"From what I can tell, some people out there won't be happy until they see my head on a stake," Vagramov said in a statement.

Even though there is no legal requirement for him to step away from his role, Vagramov says he is exercising his discretion to go back on leave until he is cleared of the charged laid against him. 

"I expect to return to office in the next three to four weeks to continue serving in the role I was elected, for the balance of this term," he added. 

His next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 13. 

Last Tuesday, council approved a motion asking him to take a leave of absence until the case was resolved. The motion passed 4-3. Vagramov, who is under no legal obligation to step down, said at the time he would take the comments to heart. 

Days following the vote, Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson also weighed in asking Vagramov to "do the right thing."

Before stepping away, Vagramov says he will assist Coun. Steve Milani — who will be acting mayor — over the next few days.

Coun. Diana Dilworth, who put forward the original motion last week, says she's happy with his decision. 

 "I'm very pleased to hear that Mr. Vagramov has heard and listened," Dilworth said. "We've had over hundreds of residents that have implored him to do the right thing and return to a leave of absence." 

Dilworth reiterated that she believes the issue is not political, but rather moral, adding she's received more than 220 emails from concerned residents asking Vagramov to step down. 

With files from Justin Mcelroy

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