Ex-leader fights against sex claims

Brown stepped down as head of On­tario Tories

Edmonton Journal - - NP - Tom BlacK­well

Un­til a few days ago, it seemed Pa­trick Brown had been vir­tu­ally wiped off On­tario’s po­lit­i­cal map.

He quit as leader of the prov­ince’s Con­ser­va­tives within hours of sex­ual-mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions com­ing to light, his party moved rapidly to find a re­place­ment and the Tories’ in­terim chief vowed to clean out the “rot” he had sup­pos­edly left be­hind.

But after two weeks of near-si­lence, Brown is back, con­duct­ing a multi-pronged cam­paign to clear his name of charges he calls “ma­li­cious and false," as one el­e­ment of those ac­cu­sa­tions crum­bled Wed­nes­day.

The Cana­dian politi­cians, en­ter­tain­ers and busi­ness peo­ple ac­cused of sex­ual trans­gres­sions as part of the widen­ing #Me­Too move­ment have gen­er­ally skulked away from the harsh glare of pub­lic­ity. Brown is one of the first to ag­gres­sively fight back.

With me­dia in­ter­views, emo­tional Face­book posts, pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tors and sup­port­ive tweets from a host of Con­ser­va­tive mem­bers or provin­cial par­lia­ment and party lu­mi­nar­ies, Brown has put to the test charges of sex ha­rass­ment and as­sault that were ac­cepted with­out ques­tion two weeks ago when CTV News first re­ported them.

“Here is my mes­sage to CTV News,” he said on Face­book Wed­nes­day. “You lied. You de­famed me. I will not al­low your brand of trashy jour­nal­ism to hurt an­other per­son in this coun­try.”

And to the two women who ac­cused him of mis­con­duct in his home­town of Bar­rie, Ont.: “If you truly stand by your al­le­ga­tions, then I urge you to con­tact Bar­rie Po­lice and have them lay charges … These types of al­le­ga­tions should be dealt with in a proper and fair fo­rum.”

In an interview on Global TV Wed­nes­day, he sug­gested that a third party was be­hind the al­le­ga­tions, say­ing one of the women had voiced sup­port for him on so­cial me­dia long after the al­leged in­ci­dent.

“I want to know who put her up to this. I want to know who’s be­hind this, be­cause this is just hor­rific.”

CTV re­ported that the two women, nei­ther of whom has been named, were stand­ing by their al­le­ga­tions, but did ac­knowl­edge that a key part of one ac­cuser’s story was in­cor­rect as orig­i­nally re­ported.

One of them had said she was a high school stu­dent un­der the le­gal drink­ing age when Brown met her at a bar about 10 years ago, gave her drinks back at his home, then ex­posed him­self and told her to per­form oral sex on him.

She now says she was of le­gal drink­ing age and out of high school. Brown was 29.

“Col­lat­eral details from an in­ci­dent many years ago are not im­por­tant,” the woman said in a state­ment re­leased Wed­nes­day by David Butt, her lawyer. The is­sue, she said, is “the abuse of power by an older sober man over a young in­tox­i­cated woman.”

Butt ac­cused Brown of an in­sen­si­tive and pa­tri­ar­chal at­tempt to goad and “dic­tate to a sur­vivor what her heal­ing path should be.”

“By dar­ing my client to go to the po­lice, Mr. Brown de­stroys the cred­i­bil­ity of his self-pro­claimed sup­port for women who have suf­fered sex­ual mis­treat­ment,” he said in the state­ment.

In an interview, the lawyer sug­gested Brown’s re­sponse has gen­er­ally ex­hib­ited “tone deaf­ness,” and would mean even fewer women com­ing for­ward about al­leged sex­ual mis­con­duct in future.

Mean­while, back in the lime­light, Brown has cast an awk­ward shadow over a party that in re­cent days has ex­cit­edly trum­peted its future with­out him.

“We are in the midst of ex­cit­ing times, with un­lim­ited po­ten­tial,” in­terim leader Vic Fedeli en­thused in a memo ob­tained by the Toronto Star, cit­ing a record in­flux of vol­un­teers and cash since Brown left.

Brown’s pub­lic­ity coun­terof­fen­sive be­gan on Fri­day, with a Post­media News interview in which he called the al­le­ga­tions “ab­so­lute lies,” the story spread­ing via a mass text to Con­ser­va­tive mem­bers soon af­ter­ward.

A Face­book post ex­panded on the theme, and was fol­lowed by tweets from a va­ri­ety of MPPs, Con­ser­va­tive can­di­dates in the June 7 elec­tion and other Tories. Among them was Thomas DeG­root, head of IT on the party ex­ec­u­tive, who de­clared “Al­ways be­lieved @ brown­bar­rie” in retweet­ing the Post­media story.

Brown has hired lawyers, who in turn have re­tained pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

The goal is not to dis­credit the women but get to the bot­tom of what hap­pened and ex­pose any in­con­sis­ten­cies, ar­gued Alise Mills, a Van­cou­ver cri­sis-com­mu­ni­ca­tions ex­pert work­ing for Brown.


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