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Woman accusing ex-NDP MP Romeo Saganash of sexual assault goes public

The woman accusing former New Democrat MP Romeo Saganash of sexual assault is going public, saying she wants to support others.

Carmen Roy, who works for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, alleges she was sexually assaulted on May 1 in Winnipeg. Police say they arrested the former MP on June 27.

In a written statement sent to The Canadian Press, Roy said she is considering a civil suit.

Her lawyer said Roy was at work when the alleged incident happened but she is not able to provide more details.

The lawyer representing Saganash said in a media statement that his client is presumed innocent and requested that his privacy be respected.

None of the allegations have been tested in court.

Roy, who does not want her identity to be protected by a publication ban, said she has had a “traumatic experience” but thanked those who have supported her.

“I don’t want to be silent, and I think it is important to use my voice to help other victims of sexual trauma,” Roy wrote in the statement sent Monday through her lawyer, Kathryn Marshall.

“I am exploring my legal options and I look forward to achieving justice and accountability.”

Roy opposed publication ban

Manitoba Crown prosecutors said they had intended to seek a publication ban, a common mechanism in sexual assault cases that prevents media from reporting identifying information about complainants.

But prosecutors revised their plan after Roy said she did not want such a ban. On Wednesday, a Winnipeg judge agreed to have the case proceed without one.

Ethan Pollock, the Winnipeg-based lawyer representing Saganash in the case, wrote in a statement that “hatred” has been “disseminated online” about his client. He noted the court process is still underway.

“My client is a 10-year residential school survivor and lives with debilitating trauma resulting from this horrific experience,” Pollock wrote Wednesday night. “Mr. Saganash has been a valuable member of the Indigenous and Canadian political community for a considerable period of time.”

Saganash and the NDP

Saganash represented the northern Quebec riding of Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou from 2011 to 2019, serving as the Indigenous affairs critic for the NDP.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has not responded to a request for comment on the allegation that a member of its staff was sexually assaulted while on the job.

In July 2022, Saganash was named as one of the residential school survivors working with a national advisory committee on how to address missing children and unmarked burials. The committee was set up by the federal government and the centre.

Earlier this month, a spokesperson for the centre said Saganash no longer holds that role. The spokesperson did not say why or when he left that position.

Saganash, a Cree lawyer, helped to negotiate the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As an MP, he put forward proposed legislation to implement it in Canada.

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