A former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister is being accused of sexually assaulting and abusing one of his staffers over a decade ago.
The woman’s lawyer, former Liberal MP John Nunziata, tweeted that Premier Kathleen Wynne was informed about the alleged abuse three weeks ago. He didn’t disclose the name of the accused.
Nunziata told Global News that his client worked as an executive assistant to the accused.
He said the woman wrote a letter to Premier Wynne, who she knew from her time as a school trustee, in which she said she had reported the minister’s “repulsive and adulterous groping, propositioning and innuendo and chronic inebriation” to a human resources official in the legislative assembly.
In the letter, the woman said she was reassigned to a different office soon after and was told that no action would be taken against the minister because “we don’t want to embarrass the premier.” She was eventually let go from the Ontario Liberal Party.
The woman added that she was left with the impression that she wasn’t the first to raise concerns about the minister.
Nunziata challenged Wynne to take action against members of her party who he says were culpable in covering up the alleged abuse and silencing the accuser.
“The premier, when other situations have come forward, has praised women, calling them courageous, and so my client is one of those individuals. It took a lot for her to come forward,” Nunziata said.
“So we’d like to see what action the premier’s going to take when it’s one of her own.”
The Premier’s Office said it was unaware of what Nunziata was referring to.
“We don’t know what Mr. Nunziata is referring to in his tweet,” a spokesperson for the Premier’s Office told Global News. “However, we can confirm that since becoming premier in 2013, Premier Wynne has not been informed of any complaints of this nature against any member of her cabinet.
“In saying that, we take these types of matters very seriously. When our office receives information related to sexual misconduct, we engage the services of outside counsel and, where appropriate, retain the services of those with expertise in workplace investigations.”
Nunziata said he can prove the Premier’s Office was in fact aware of the accusations, because his client received an email from the Premier’s lawyer.
He said he doesn’t plan to disclose the name of the accused at this time, saying he would leave that up to Wynne.
— With files from Global Toronto reporter Kamil Karamali