Premier says Gerry Sklavounos won't immediately return to Liberal caucus
Philippe Couillard's comments come as alleged victim publishes open letter about Crown's decision
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says MNA Gerry Sklavounos, who left the Liberal caucus last year following allegations of sexual assault, won't be "immediately or automatically" welcomed back into the fold.
Sklavounos resigned last October after a Quebec City woman, Alice Paquet, accused him of sexually assaulting her,
The Quebec office of the Director of Penal and Criminal Prosecutions (DPCP) announced yesterday that after examining the results of the police investigation into Paquet's complaint, it had concluded that no criminal act was committed and no charges would be filed.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Couillard said that while it's "unequivocally clear" that no criminal act took place, what to do next with Sklavounos is not strictly about the law.
He said he wants to hear a "sincere statement" from Sklavounos on his views about relationships between men and women in the workplace before considering whether to bring him back into the Liberal caucus.
The two will meet some time next week, Couillard said.
Complaint wasn't taken seriously, alleged victim says
Couillard's comments come on the same day that an open letter Paquet wrote was published in Le Devoir.
"I wanted to share the obstacles that I faced in defending my dignity against the indifference and contempt that sexual assault victims are targeted with," she wrote in the newspaper.
Paquet said Sklavounos allegedly assaulted her in 2014 after she had a few drinks with him and went to his hotel room. Sklavounos has denied the allegations.
Paquet wrote in her letter that in such cases, police are often looking for what she called a "perfect victim," and she didn't fit the bill.
"Sexual assault complaints aren't taken seriously if the victim's sexual morals are considered 'too free,' or if they at first voluntarily go somewhere with the accused," she said.
"We're also given less credibility if we withdraw our consent during sexual intercourse."
'Reduced to almost nothing'
"Now, in the name of unbridled sensationalism and a defence of the status quo, I see myself condemned, reduced to almost nothing," Paquet wrote.
She said since she made the allegations, she's been the victim of horrible comments, piercing stares from strangers on the street and threats.
But she added she has received a lot of support, as well, mostly from other women who say they've been victims of assault. She said that has inspired her to continue speaking out about the issue.
She also addressed allegations made last week against another Liberal MNA, Pierre Paradis.
Paradis was kicked out of the Liberal caucus after the premier learned police were investigating a complaint of a sexual nature made by someone who was Paradis's former employee.
"This shows that the problem is wide, immense and must be confronted with all the forces involved," Paquet wrote.
Sklavounos to return to work
Sklavounos couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday, but he responded to the Crown's decision not to lay charges on his Facebook page Thursday.
"It is with relief and satisfaction that my family and I have welcomed the decision of the DPCP to not lay charges following allegations made public last October," he wrote.
"From the outset, I have maintained my innocence which is confirmed by [Thursday's] decision."
Sklavounos said he considers the matter closed, and he intends to resume his duties as an MNA as quickly as possible.