The federal liberals have asked one of their candidates in downtown Toronto to “stop” his campaign after Star revealed that he was charged with sexual assault in 2019 and that the charge was dropped later that year.
In a statement to the star Thursday night, Spadina – Liberal candidate in Fort York, Kevin Vuong, said he “would unequivocally state that these allegations are false” and that he “fought fiercely” against them until the charge of sexual assault was dropped. in November 2019.
He said he would have continued the fight if the charge had not been withdrawn, stating that it is “deeply worrying” that the charges reappeared a few days before the election.
“I want to take some time with my family,” Vuong’s statement said.
In a separate statement, Liberal Party spokesman Alex Lawrence said the party was first told about the situation on Thursday and that they asked Vuong “to pause the campaign while we look into this.”
Vuong became the Liberal candidate for riding Spadina-Fort York this summer, shortly after incumbent Liberal MP Adam Vaughan announced he would not seek re-election.
The woman, whose accusation led to sexual assault, told the Star that she was not aware that Vuong was running for the Left until she recently returned to Toronto to see his face on election signs in the King Street West area.
It’s the Star’s policy to grant anonymity to people who claim to be victims of sexual assault.
Court documents show that the Crown Prosecutor withdrew the charge against Vuong on November 27, 2019, seven months after he was charged and before the case had gone to court.
“I met with the complainant in this case for a while and the responsible officer. (The complainant) had a number of personal problems that were happening right now, ”Crown Prosecutor Louise Collins said in court according to a transcript. “I have reviewed this case again and decided that it would not be in the public interest to proceed.”
In an interview with the star, the complainant said she went on several dates with Vuong after they met on a dating app in early 2019.
On April 8, 2019, she said, Vuong came to her home and the two watched a movie, went to bed and fell asleep. Not long after, she said she was awakened by Vuong touching her.
“First he touches my breasts, and then he tries to drag all over my neck, and then his hands go lower,” she said.
She said she was confused for a few seconds and then told Vuong that she should go to the toilet, where she said she locked the door and contacted a friend. The friend came to the apartment, told Vuong to leave and he went without confrontation, said the complainant, who also provided screenshots of text messages to the friend from that night.
The friend confirmed her recollection of tonight’s events.
Vuong did not address the details of the allegation against him in his statement to the star.
The complainant said she told the Crown Attorney that she “did not have the energy” to go to trial as she had already been through trauma by going through a criminal case after she was sexually assaulted as a child.
“At the same time (I told her that), he should say something … or (face) some sort of consequences for his actions,” she said, adding that she told the Crown that she wanted Vuong to go into therapy or advice.
The complainant said it was the only time she spoke to Collins. She also said she was not aware that the charge against Vuong had been dropped before the star informed her this week.
Brian Gray, a spokesman for the Ontario State Attorney’s Office, did not say why the charge against Vuong was dropped.
Gray said, however, that “generally” Crown attorneys are “obligated to withdraw charges if there is no reasonable prospect of conviction or if it is not in the public interest to continue.”
Vuong’s biography on the Liberal Party’s website describes him as an “entrepreneur, lecturer and military officer” who started a company to make reusable face masks when the pandemic hit last year.
He was also named one of Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 in 2016 by Corporate Knights magazine, describing his service in the Canadian Navy and Toronto Initiatives.
Controversies involving allegations of inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct have led the Liberal Party through the campaign.
Raj Saini, the Liberal candidate and sitting MP in the Kitchener Center, ended his campaign on September 4, after the CBC reported allegations that he had made unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate comments to Liberal employees.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who says his party has a zero-tolerance policy and strict standards for dealing with such behavior, had originally defended his party’s decision to let Saini continue as a Liberal candidate.
Saini has denied the charges against him, calling them “unequivocally false” and “defamatory”.
The Liberal government has been criticized for its handling of allegations of sexual abuse that reached the top ranks of the Canadian military. Among those facing charges of misconduct are Jonathan Vance, the former chief of defense staff who retired as the country’s top military officer in January, and Major General Dany Fortin, who was removed as head of Canada’s COVID-19 rollout. of vaccines and charged with sexual assault.
Both men deny the charges against them.