In a terse statement indicating that no charges of sexual assault would be filed as a result of the claims of 21-year old Alice Paquet, M.N.A. Gerry Sklavounos announced that he is planning a return to the political scene in Quebec by reclaiming his position in the caucus of the ruling Liberal Party.
The news that Gerry Sklavounos was facing accusations he had assaulted Ms. Paquet was dropped as a bomb on Quebec politics last October. The young woman, speaking at a forum for victims of sexual abuse at Laval University, took the floor and announced, in dramatic tone, that she was, herself, a victim of assault committed by a member of Quebec's National Assembly. Immediately, Premier Philippe Coulliard forced Mr.Sklavounos to resign from his caucus while Alice Paquet toured the media telling a story filled with gaps and contradictions.
After three months of thorough investigation by the authorities, it was determined that, due to a lack of any sufficient evidence, the prosecution would not be pressing charges against Sklavounos for the "alleged" sexual abuse of Paquet. Now, Gerry Sklavounos is hoping to return to his position in the Liberal caucus and hoping that the Premier of Quebec will restore and correct the political injustice he suffered last October.
Unfortunately, over the course of the last months, the provincial and national media shone a savage light on Sklavounos, highlighting Alice Paquet as a heroine even as her allegations were being debunked one after the other. It was shocking to watch the ease with which politicians and journalists rushed to condemn the M.N.A. even though his accuser's story was filled with numerous falsehoods. It was, frankly, a disappointing hypocrisy with our society using every means to attempt to banish Sklavounos from the political and social scene by making him appear as a "rapist" on the unproven and weak accusations of a young woman.
As a woman, I fully respect women's rights and I strongly support those who have been the victims of rape, even verbally, as it is their inalienable right, even their obligation, to denounce all abusers who must be severely punished. However, when a young girl accuses a public persona of sexual assault, the worst form of violence, and proceeds to overturn, one after another, the scenarios of her personal narrative, then I begin to wonder how the media can so effortlessly embrace a story without proof or investigation, socially condemning someone without any regret.
Importantly, the claims of Alice Paquet that ultimately proved insufficient to lead to the pressing of charges against Gerry Sklavounos have the effect of weakening the position of women who have experienced sexual violence. Instead of solidifying the case of women who have actually suffered the horror of male violence, she weakens it, fomenting suspicion in future cases. In fact, such unsubstantiated stories have the effect of ridiculing complaints of sexual violence.
Before the castigation of anyone, there must be a thorough investigation of the events. It is irresponsible of our society, whether it be represented by politicians or the media, to accept, at face value, any unsupported complaint, in effect turning the twisting and falsification of events into an iconic reality .
Silence and shame are unacceptable when it comes to women's violence but lies and unsupported accusations weaken every assaulted woman's position.