Liberal MNA Gerry Sklavounos alleged to have sexually assaulted young woman in Québec City

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lagatta
Liberal MNA Gerry Sklavounos alleged to have sexually assaulted young woman in Québec City

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/alice-paquet-alleged-sexual-assau...

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/liberals-quebec-alleged-sexual-as...

Nothing is proved, but several other reports emerging have referred to inappropriate behaviour by the MNA.

His riding is a short walk north of the one where I live (I have lived in that riding) and interestingly, it corresponds to a swath of Justin Trudeau's riding, Papineau. Laurier-Dorion is essentially Villeray and Park Extension; Papineau also includes part of St-Michel to the east.

This is a huge scandal here, following on the spate of sexual assaults at Laval University.

Issues Pages: 
Regions: 
lagatta

Sorry for the self-reply, but here is another report, in French, about alleged inappropriate behaviour:

http://ici.radio-canada.ca/regions/quebec/2016/10/21/006-gerry-sklavouno...

Unionist

He's out of the Liberal caucus, and police are allegedly investigating (again). QS is saying he should resign as MNA.

Cortina

Gerry Sklavounos was cleared of all charges, which were found to be baseless by investigators.

Alice Paquet admitted on TV to a Radio-Canada interviewer that, entirely contrary to her earlier public claims:

1) The police never discouraged her from pursuing Sklavounos, only inquiring as part of the investigation if she had ever said no or indicated her opposition to intercourse in any way;

2) The police repeatedly tried to contact her after she first went to them (contrary to her claim that they did nothing to help and failed to follow up her complaint), and in fact she chose not to contact them or to respond to their repeated inquiries;

3) She did not use or accept or in any way possess or present a rape kit (she claimed she had employed a rape kit);

4) Sklavounos never before, during or after the encounter in question in any way assaulted her or physically harmed her (she had previously claimed that he had subsequently, on another occasion when she turned up at his house, assaulted her to the extent of forcing her to get stitches);

5) She voluntarily and spontaneously returned to see him two weeks after the first encounter to have sex with him which she initiated, with the intention of giving him pleasure;

6) She suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (which is irrelevant in itself, except said disorder is frequently associated with misinterpretation and/or misrepresentation of social interactions).

Based on this evidence, the only fair thing, whether one likes him or not, is to fully exonerate Sklavounos with respect to the charges in the media and public sphere, and recognize that he and his family have been victimized by groundless accusations that will taint the rest of his life.  None of the above is intended in any way as an attack on Paquet (one hopes all the best for her); rather the aim is to be fair to Sklavounos based on Paquet's own words and admissions.

Unionist

Cortina wrote:

Based on this evidence, the only fair thing, whether one likes him or not, is to fully exonerate Sklavounos with respect to the charges in the media and public sphere, and recognize that he and his family have been victimized by groundless accusations that will taint the rest of his life.  None of the above is intended in any way as an attack on Paquet (one hopes all the best for her); rather the aim is to be fair to Sklavounos based on Paquet's own words and admissions.

I don't know the "real facts" any more than you do, Cortina - but Sklavounos himself and others aren't quite as staunch in his defence as you are.

[url=http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/mna-gerry-sklavounos-wont-off... Gerry Sklavounos apologizes to anyone offended by his behaviour[/url]

And your recounting of Alice Paquet's words - your using them as a defence lawyer would - and your innunendo about the possible effects of her health condition - are borderline offensive. Sklavounos won't be criminally charged. We've known that since last week. Why are you trying him in court here and finding him not guilty? 

lagatta4

More than borderline offensive at a site that proclaims itself feminist. I live in the area (I lived in that riding for years, now I live just south of there in Gouin). I'm active in community associations in his riding, and he has more than a bit of a sleazy reputation with respect of women. No, that doesn't prove that he sexually assaulted the complainant, but a lot of people do NOT see him as white as snow due to other incidents.

Cortina

Lagatta does not like him, perhaps with reason. Whether not he is white as snow seems irrelevant to me -- even dislikable people should be sheltered from false and made-up testimony and groundless accusations.  Exoneration -- publicly and openly -- is the only thinkable way for a just society to proceed.  Otherwise we are left with round after round of ideologically biased attacks.  This cuts to very heart of democracy and the respect of the most basic civil rights.  I have not tried him -- Paquet herself has exonerated him, by any rational definition.  One wonders if he would receive the same treatment here if he were a progressive luminary. Open our minds!  Using innuendo to undermine someone is Putinesque.  Let someone level genuine accusations or leave him alone.

lagatta4

Somehow I doubt that Putin, who approved the decriminalisation of spousal assault, is a feminist.

http://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/810064/gerry-sklavounos-allegations-...

http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2016/10/21/la-caq-demande-a-sklavounos-...

Many interns, or pages, have made allegations about inappropriate behaviour by Gerry. No, of course that doesn't prove that he is a rapist, but to be an elected representative, I think the standard of ethical behaviour is somewhat higher, not you?

I don't have much of a PERSONAL opinion of him - I'm older than he is and doubt he would hit on me. Moreover, I could beat the shit out of him if he did. But younger women I know in community associations here roll their eyes when his name comes up.

Do you not think female colleagues should be treated with respect? And I am most certainly NOT one of those who would excuse a leftist leader who did that, I've been around long enough to have encountered them and they deserve every bit as much shunning, if not more as they are hypocrites. I had a colleague at the communications department of a labour union here who made death threats against his estranged wife, while writing articles advocating employment equity.  No excuses whatsoever.

I'm inclined to think you might want to read up on feminism. Or just start out by a look at a funny old movie, 9 to 5.

Cortina

Please directly cite these allegations of inappropriate behaviour.  Anything can be said.

Nobody is denying the prevalence of sexual harassment, but a feminism which relies on unsupported and undocumented imputation of crimes against individuals will never be taken seriously.  Specific accusations require specific evidence. I believe, at a minimum, that feminism, to have any practical meaning, has to support equality before the law and in the workplace.

Putin's people smear their opponents regularly -- that is the charge I am levelling now against those who attack Sklavounos.

Putin has certainly allowed laws attacking LGBTQ.  The current law seems like a step forward, as it was apparrently brought in to INCREASE reporting of spousal abuse, as existing punishments for first offences were deemed as being so harsh as to discourage reporting of abuse by women.  I think one may fairly question the approach, but not the intention.

Unionist

Cortina - what did Sklavounos apologize for?

lagatta4

I submitted two newspaper stories about the case; did you read them? I don't have any direct dealings with the Assemblée nationale, except for certain members I know. The press here is MUCH less sanguine about the behaviour of Sklavounos than you are. I'm listening to the Radio-Canada afternoon show and people they are interviewing including a public relations expert are saying that his political career is pretty much over. Yes, we've seen sleazy guys like Clinton, but Sklavounos never had such a high profile - he was never a star in the Liberal caucus.

You seem VERY hard on feminism... Don't you realize how hard it is for sexual assault victims (whatever their sex) to get a conviction? Have you heard of "Raped, not reported"? Don't you understand why women are pissed off about this? No, of course that doesn't prove that he is a rapist. But there is a hell of a lot of proof of creepy behaviour on his part.

Cortina

Many many years ago, I was raped and had it reported to no avail, so get down off your high horse please.  So, again, there are no specific accusations.  That is not good enough.

lagatta4

Oh brother. In that case, I don't know what it would take to get you to take the matter of achieving justice for women (and other victims of sexual assault and harassment) seriously.

 

Unionist

Cortina - what did Sklavounos apologize for?

Cortina

Unionist -- that is indeed a good question.  It seems that he may be apologizing for something like "ungentlemanly behaviour" -- I use that euphemism because there are no specifics.  It seems to me it is about trying to satisfy Couillard's insistence that he show "appropriate contrition" and "serious self-reflection" on his behaviour, which, of course, is about nothing but managing political expectations for the intended benefit of the Quebec Liberal Party.  Either Couillard knows something, has some specific evidence against him -- in which case, as you would surely agree, the Liberal response is too light -- Sklavounos would have to be forever barred from caucus.  Or, there is no evidence (more likely), and Couillard, rather than robustly defending Sklavounos's innocence, is requiring a hypocritical ritual self-abasement for political benefit.  Unsavory behaviour from the Liberals on either count.

lagatta4

Members of the Liberal caucus aren't impressed with the way Sklavounos excused his own behaviour:  http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/491456/gerry-sklavounos-n-a-pas...

I certainly don't especially "like" the Gazette's Don Macpherson, hardly a progressive, but he is very hard-hitting in this column:

http://montrealgazette.com/opinion/columnists/don-macpherson-gerry-sklav...

Cortina

Macpherson writes (and I WOULD call him a progressive because he believes in equality) "It still is difficult for a victim of sexual assault to obtain justice in a court of law [very true, but not a reason for in any way lowering the evidentiary standard]." He continues, "But since Ghomeshi, an allegation of sexual harassment, even unproven, is enough to destroy the career of a male public figure." [Also true even if Ghomeshi's behaviour is horrible.]

"Got them drunk?"  Has there been a suggestion that these women were so drunk as not to be able to consent?  If that were the case, then he should be charged with rape.  But if inhibitions were merely lowered, and the women were capable of consenting, and did so, then I think this is a non-issue. One should'nt infantilize women -- or any adult: we are responsible for our decisions within the boundaries of the law, and should learn from them. Frankly, the fact that the women and Sklavounos drank together before having sex is less than remarkable, and not proof that anyone was victimized.

The other reports by Macpherson about Sklavounos's sexist and harrassing comments are certainly disturbing.  But who is claiming this?  The accusations for the time being appear all to be third-hand accounts (unless someone knows something that I do not). Someone should stand up on the record, or consider, if they are afraid of being sued, asking a member of the assembly (with the protections of privilege) to recount exactly what happened to them and mention their name. (There is a problem with that too, I realize, since Sklavounos would still be accused without being able to defend himself, but it would be better than nothing.)  I fully support the right of sex assault victims not have their identities revealed if they do not want them to be.  However, I think that, tactically, if we are eventually to reduce the incidence of sexual assault, rape has to be emptied of its social stigma (I mean towards the victim), and the best way to do that, since it is such a common crime, is to treat it more matter-of-factly and publicly, the way one would an aggravated assault.

Unionist

Did it ever occur to you, Cortina, that men can do sexist, harassing, disgusting, vile things to women without breaching the Criminal Code? And the fact that their behaviour falls short of criminal doesn't mean their sorry ass shouldn't be heaved out of the highest realms of political office?

Are you aware that sexual harassment, absent assault or threats of assault, is not a criminal offence in Canada - and yet, it can be enough to get you fired from any job in the land?

I don't think you grasp that distinction. Which is why I wondered why you were giving a point-by-point defence of Sklavounos against criminal charges which were never laid.

The question is not whether he's a criminal, though you might wish to reduce it to that. The question is whether he should be publicly exposed and turfed.

lagatta4

Indeed. That was my point as well - and the main point raised by the women's movement here. As well as the fact that it is very hard to prove most cases of sexual assault for obious reasons of lack of witnesses.

As far as I know Macpherson is a Liberal - not a progressive. He's always seemed more someone who defends the old Anglo establishment than anything else. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Macpherson_(journaliste) Quoting French wiki as strangely, the English version is merely a stub.

An interview by Michèle Oumet with Françoise David, mostly not about sexual or other harassment, but the macho political culture of the National Assembly (and other deliberative bodies) http://www.lapresse.ca/debats/chroniques/michele-ouimet/201702/11/01-506... She does refer to the current issues there at the end of the interview, as well as a traumatic experience she lived through when much younger - something I think a lot of women can relate to.

You might also want to reread the rules for our playground:

http://rabble.ca/about/babblepolicy

What is rabble.ca?

rabble.ca is a public, independent, progressive news and information source. In defining itself as "progressive," rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and as such encourages discussions which develop and expand progressive thought.

babble: discussion board

As part of rabble.ca, babble was created to ensure that readers and participants could explore a wide range of issues of interest and concern in interactive and dynamic ways.

babble is NOT intended as a place where the basic and fundamental values of human rights, feminism, anti-racism and labour rights are to be debated or refought. Anyone who joins babble who indicates intentions to challenge these rights and principles may be seen as disruptive to the nature of the forum.

 

Cortina

Unionist and Lagatta: nothing you said in your most recent comments nullifies or even speaks to what I have said.

It WAS necessary to explore the criminal charges NOT laid against Sklavounos, because this all started as a scandal, one investigated by police, specifically in response to claims, false claims we now know, that Sklavounos committed an actual crime.

I agree, if he has harrassed anyone, that he should be "turfed", and it is a good thing to expose such harrassment.  My problem is the assumption that you appear to make that the claims that he is guilty of harrassment (or some equally reprehensible behaviour) are true.  Nobody, as far as I know, has come forward with any specific accusations.  Rumours and rumblings do not make argument, and cannot be an excuse for "turfing" anyone.

Lagatta, are you at the end of your argument?  It is perplexing to me that you should wish to quote Rabble's standards of conduct.  I have not breached them in any way.  And quoting them does not consist of argument, or reasoned discussion.  It smacks of something else. Is that not really the problem?  There is plenty of evidence for systemic racism, a macho culture at the Assembly, systemic sexism, homophobia and all the other bad things.  But individuals cannot be condemned for collective crimes, nor should they be otherwise sanctioned (e.g. be "turfed") if there is no specific evidence against them.  So where is the evidence? Unless and until specific details are provided, the only ethical way forward is to exonerate Sklavounos.  He should be regarded as innocent in the court of pubic opinion just as much as in the court of law.  Any lesser standard is a slippery slope to mobocracy.  Polite disagreement is supposed to be a buffer against that eventuality: the purpose of analysis and discussion is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to social or political questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by ideologues.  Empiricism is the foundation of progressivism.

lagatta4

Actually, I KNOW people who were harassed by him. And no, I'm not going to tell them to testify against him; it is their choice and I'm not going to play the radical aunt who knows better than young women enduring that crap. Now they know that they are not alone and that he probably won't dare to have "wandering hands".

I quoted our guidelines because I think that you tread very close to anti-feminism. Unionist had a very succinct explanation of the issues in play here, and I was supporting it. I see no reason for a further discussion. The sexual assault case is moot now, though Gerry seems to have a pattern of what some might call "date rape". Or at the least, of taking advantage of people with far less power and life experience.

We are not going to get into a discussion about empiricism vs dialectical materialism; frankly I have better things to do, and you probably do as well. You seem to want to needle me and you know very well what my reaction is to that sort of harassment.

Cortina

Ok, now THAT is interesting.  You must, of course, do what you think is right. But I do not have your privileged insight into Sklavounos's behaviour.  So would you have someone like me take your statement as the simple truth?  Why should I accept your statements as authoritative and well-founded? (I am not asserting that they are not, merely that there are no grounds for me to prefer them over any other views.)  I suggest, for people like me, people apparently "not in the know", the most ethical way forward, taking everything into consideration including your statements, is to offer the Sklavounos the benefit of the doubt.

I consider myself pro-feminist.  Unlike our PM, I would not call myself a feminist, as I am a man and I do not think that men can be feminists, at least not using the word as a noun.  As an adjective, in some circumstances, it could be possible, as the term "feminist" could indicate adherence to a specific technical or philosophical approach to analysing some question -- e.g. "feminist historian."  Your depiction of systemically sexist power relations in the interactions of of MNAs is an interesting takeaway from the discussion above.

However, I do not think that feminism, qua feminism, has much to contribute to current discussions of Sklavounos's alleged behaviour.  What I mean is: it is entirely possible for an anti-feminist, or someone who is feminist-neutral of whatever political stripe, to be as disturbed and angry about any specific account or case of harrassment as a feminist.  Feminists do not have a monopoly, obviously, over opposition to crime, violence, and personal abuse.  It seems to me that the systemic analysis that feminism offers of gendered power-relations can be very powerful (and is what is often lacking in non-feminist accounts, which fail to relate specific events to general conditions).  However, going the other direction, from general analysis to specific condemnation of an individual is a dubious exercise, unless there is some evidence of specific acts committed.  As the general public is not, and likely cannot be, privy to any such evidence, there are no grounds to hold Sklavounos in less esteem than before the scandal started.

lagatta4

Couillard is not letting Gerry back into the Liberal caucus; he doesn't accept his apology "if anyone was offended".

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/mna-gerry-sklavounos-statement-se...

http://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1016795/gerry-sklavounos-demeure-exc...

Cortina

Interesting. So that suggests Couillard knows something I do not, perhaps along the lines you indicated. It also relieves him of a political headache.

Sineed

Let's parse this, shall we? I'm in Ontario and don't know the players here. But this is what I have read:

lagatta wrote:
Actually, I KNOW people who were harassed by him.

Cortina wrote:
You must, of course, do what you think is right. But I do not have your privileged insight into Sklavounos's behaviour.  So would you have someone like me take your statement as the simple truth?  Why should I accept your statements as authoritative and well-founded?

And then Cortina goes on to say:

Cortina wrote:
Feminists do not have a monopoly, obviously, over opposition to crime, violence, and personal abuse.

So when women do speak up, your first instinct is to not believe them, and your second is to diminish what they say.

Have I got that straight?

 

Unionist

Sineed wrote:

So when women do speak up, your first instinct is to not believe them, and your second is to diminish what they say.

Have I got that straight?

I do believe you did, Sineed!

Sineed

A 20-month investigation by The Globe and Mail reveals that sexual-assault victims are more likely to be believed in some areas of the country than in others

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/investigations/compare-unfounded-sex...

Quote:
In Canada, police dismiss 1 out of every 5 sexual-assault reports as unfounded – meaning police believe the crime didn't happen

...

Our investigation has shown that sexual-assault cases are nearly twice as likely as physical assault to be designated unfounded. (The Globe found that only 11 per cent of physical assaults were coded as unfounded.) The number is also significantly higher than the false-reporting rate, which studies have shown to be somewhere between 2 and 8 per cent.

And while, on average, 1 in 5 sexual-assault allegations is deemed unfounded, The Globe found that the statistics varied wildly from town to town, city to city and province to province. Even separate police services located in the same geographic area recorded starkly different unfounded rates. In total, police in 115 communities dismissed at least one-third of sex-assault complaints as unfounded.

In Toronto, the "unfounded" level is low, 7%. In Montreal, it's 18%. (The national average is 19%.) So almost 1 in 5 sexual assault allegations in Gerry Sklavounos' riding are dismissed by the police.

 

MegB

Sineed wrote:

Let's parse this, shall we? I'm in Ontario and don't know the players here. But this is what I have read:

lagatta wrote:
Actually, I KNOW people who were harassed by him.

Cortina wrote:
You must, of course, do what you think is right. But I do not have your privileged insight into Sklavounos's behaviour.  So would you have someone like me take your statement as the simple truth?  Why should I accept your statements as authoritative and well-founded?

And then Cortina goes on to say:

Cortina wrote:
Feminists do not have a monopoly, obviously, over opposition to crime, violence, and personal abuse.

So when women do speak up, your first instinct is to not believe them, and your second is to diminish what they say.

Have I got that straight?

 

You do indeed Sineed. Cortina, setting aside your pretentious delivery, I'd say your posts reveal how little you know of feminism and how little esteem you hold women in general. That position is in  violation of babble policy.

Quote:
babble is NOT intended as a place where the basic and fundamental values of human rights, feminism, anti-racism and labour rights are to be debated or refought. Anyone who joins babble who indicates intentions to challenge these rights and principles may be seen as disruptive to the nature of the forum.
Have you got that straight?

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Unionist wrote:

Sineed wrote:

So when women do speak up, your first instinct is to not believe them, and your second is to diminish what they say.

Have I got that straight?

I do believe you did, Sineed!

So do I.  And that's the only thing I'm going to post in this thread.

Cortina

Nice to see you all agree.  I happen not to.  It is not anti-feminist to require evidence.  It seems to me, and I remember it well from my childhood, that one of the great battles of feminists was to have actual evidence respected by male dominated authorities. Rape kits and bruising were dismissed as "accidental".  Repeated public reports of sexual assault were not even looked into.  Medical records demonstrating the systematic and repeated abuse of women were disregarded.  Some of the great victories of feminism were precisely its ability to demand and force authority figures to treat complaints of abuse fairly, not to dismiss such evidence out of hand.  And, one of the great results of this amazing work has been demonstrated in this case: as Alice Paquet said, the police repeatedly tried to contact her and follow up the claim of rape.  Let me say that I think that this would not have occurred without the sterling work of feminists over the years.

But lagatta's claims, which I do not deny and do not endorse, cannot, for the reasons she has outlined, meet the very standards that feminists have used to force advances in the system.  I do not know Lagatta, and I treat all evidence from all people of all sexes, gendres, races, political philosophies and backgrounds on the same basis; I subject them to the same standards.  And, incidentally, not doing so, IMO, would truly be an attack on feminism.  And on that basis, I cannot find a fair rationale for continuing to attack Sklavounos.

I think the legal standard of evidence is a good standard in everyday life: it is not enough to have smoke -- you have to have fire.

6079_Smith_W

From that Macpherson column:

Quote:

It still is difficult for a victim of sexual assault to obtain justice in a court of law. But since Ghomeshi, an allegation of sexual harassment, even unproven, is enough to destroy the career of a male public figure.

Ick.

Especially when one considers that Ghomeshi in the end had to admit misconduct and sign a peace bond. It wasn't justice. But that at least was proof it wasn't nothing.

That glaring innuendo aside, that column was actually not bad in getting the creep factor across. Did he really call himself a "little charmer"? Clearly he either has no idea of the situation he is in, or he just thinks he can get away with anything.

 

Pondering

Cortina wrote:
I think the legal standard of evidence is a good standard in everyday life: it is not enough to have smoke -- you have to have fire.

In real life having a court case before forming any negative opinion would be ridiculous. People are allowed to have a poor opinion of another person's character or judgement without any "proof".Nor is it necessary for someone to break the law in order to have a poor opinion of them.

For example, I have a poor opinion of the judgement people who enter into correspondence with dangerous criminals and fall "in love" with them. Were someone like that to run for office I would definitely not vote for them regardless of their other qualities.

Sklavounos has shown poor judgement in his relationships with women.

Sklavounos is married and has two children, all while he admits to being "friendly and close" with various young women in his entourage. [3] In June 2010, Sklavounos was selected as one of North America's Top 40 Greek Leaders under 40 Years of Age by the Greek America Foundation.[6]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerry_Sklavounos

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
I think the legal standard of evidence is a good standard in everyday life: it is not enough to have smoke -- you have to have fire.

This standard is necessary under the law, even as we all surely understand that by setting the bar high, some guilty individuals might go free.

In real life, though, I don't actually need to meet such a burden of proof if I want to assume it's my neighbour whose dog has been crapping in my yard.

And certainly political parties are under no such obligations when it comes time for them to manage themselves.  Part of the problem is that some voters are actually just fine with "smoke" in place of "fire".  We see the same thing when some proposed candidate turns out to have tweeted some nastiness -- the party doesn't have the time or resources to re-win hearts and minds, so they cut the rope.

lagatta4

Absolutely. It is better for some guilty people to go free than for a single innocent person to be unjustly incarcerated, or worse, executed.

But the level of proof needed to sack a person generally felt to be a harasser is not at all the same.

Someone is needling me when it is patently obvious that I can say absolutely nothing more about the people who have confided in me (and in other people I know and trust, and no, those confidants aren't all women).

There is a HUGE entitlement problem, and not only Trump vs pussies, or Berlusconi's antics. And criminal law is probably not the best means of making progress against this state of affairs.