Crown considering 'alternative measures' for B.C. mayor accused of sex assault
Published Thursday, September 12, 2019 7:49AM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 12, 2019 2:31PM PDT
Prosecutors are considering whether to stay the sexual assault charge against Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov in favour of "alternative measures," according to the Crown.
Vagramov's case returned to court on Thursday, though the 28-year-old mayor, who just resumed his duties following a five-month voluntary leave of absence, did not appear.
The B.C. Prosecution Service told CTV News the matter was adjourned so the Crown could consider the possibility of putting Vagramov into an alternative measures program, which would allow him to avoid trial.
"Mr. Vagramov will meet with a probation officer who will prepare a report for the Special Prosecutor's consideration," spokesperson Dan McLaughlin said in an email. "The prosecution will be concluded if Mr. Vagramov is approved for alternative measures and completes an approved resolution agreement. The charge would then be stayed."
According to BCPS policy, alternative measures programs "can be the most appropriate and effective way to address harm done to the community and to allow offenders to be rehabilitated and accept responsibility for their criminal conduct."
Speaking outside Port Coquitlam provincial court on Thursday, Vagramov's lawyer said he's hopeful the mayor's case can be resolved without trial.
He did not provide any details on what an alternative measures program for Vagramov might look like, however.
Vagramov was charged in March in connection with an alleged incident dating back to 2015, when he was a city councillor. He has denied the accusation.
Last week, he announced his return to work, a decision that some have criticized as premature.
"Charges of sexual assault are serious. He's in a position of power and it's inappropriate for him to resume his activities while his charges are still in front if the court," said Sophia Hladik, spokesperson for Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter.
Vagramov has not returned to his role as chair of the Port Moody Police Board, a role that was filled in his absence by Coun. Meghan Lahti. The mayor asked her to continue now that he's back at city hall, but she refused.
Lahti told CTV News she can't legally remain board chair while Vagramov is at work because it would violate the community charter and the Police Act.
"This is a matter that we have received multiple legal opinions on," she said in an email.
Lahti has also expressed concerns about having the mayor lead council with the sexual assault case still before the court.
"Not only is he unable to fulfil his duties fully, it causes distress in the community, is a distraction for the council, neither of which are in the best interest of good governance or leadership," she said.