The 41-year-old Liberal back-bencher has been an MNA since 2007 in the Montreal-area district of Laurier-Dorion.
At a vigil for victims of sexual assault at Laval University Wednesday night, a young woman took the microphone to announce publicly she had been sexually assaulted.
She said she was told no one would believe her “because he has a seat in the National Assembly, because he is an important man.”
The student alleged the MNA assaulted her after meeting her while she was working as a hostess at a Quebec City restaurant in 2014.
“I’m not the police, I’m not a judge, I’m not even a lawyer,” said Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard Thursday morning.
“But I just want to tell Quebecers that, to me, this is significant, not just significant, but crucially important for our society.”
Thursday afternoon, Couillard issued a brief statement:
“Given the information published in the media regarding a reporting of sexual assault, I am announcing the MNA for Laurier-Dorion, at the request of the president of the caucus of the government, Nicole Ménard, has stepped down and will sit as an independent MNA as of today. The designation of a new deputy government leader will be announced in the coming days.”
A ‘violent’ assault
Rosalie Genest, a friend of the student, told a Quebec City radio station that the assault was “violent” and that she was hospitalized the next day and received stitches.
The student said she reported the assault to police with a rape kit, but she was told this kind of accusation would ruin his career.
Quebec City police wouldn’t comment on whether this was true or not.
They said they opened an investigation in March 2016, but are waiting for the victim to corroborate details of the assault.
“We invite the victim to collaborate with us and continue the investigation,” explained Constable David Poitras with Quebec City police.
“I understand that you meet a police officer when you have a complaint, but you have to meet the investigator once the investigation is on and once the complaint is written.”
The second opposition CAQ made a statement of support for sexual assault victims and encouraged women to go to police regardless of who their attackers are.
“We have to work together, all parties, to make sure we put in place all we can do and to send the right message to women,”said CAQ leader François Legault.
“That it’s unacceptable, that we support them and that they have to report all cases.”