Councillor Craig Sauve leaves Projet Montreal in wake of 'unfounded' sexual assault allegation

After confirming he was accused of sexual assault in 2012 -- a claim he says was deemed "unfounded" -- councillor Craig Sauvé has withdrawn from the Projet Montreal party.

Sauvé, the councillor for Saint-Henri-Est-Petite-Bourgogne-Pointe-Saint-Charles-Griffintown, took to Facebook Thursday evening to make the announcement.

"Despite the fact that I completely reject this allegation, I have always insisted on treating it in a collaborative and respectful manner," he wrote.

He said he is now choosing to sit as an independent "to avoid becoming a distraction in this electoral campaign."

On Thursday morning, Sauvé, who is running for re-election, identified himself as the subject of a CBC Montreal report that accused incumbent mayor Valerie Plante of falsely claiming in 2020 she didn’t know about the allegation and a mediation process that ended in 2018.

"After a thorough investigation, the police have closed the file,” he wrote in a statement to the media.

Projet Montreal leader Valerie Plante was fiercely criticized for not being transparent about her party.

Projet Montreal spokesperson Catherine Cadotte also released a statement Thursday afternoon acknowledging that the allegations were brought to the mayor's attention in 2018 and that they were "taken very seriously."

"A mediation process was put in place to which both parties agreed and participated. The case was then deemed closed," wrote Cadotte.

"Moreover, an investigation was conducted by the police and was officially deemed closed as it was found unsubstantiated and unfounded. The mayor was therefore right in saying there weren't any pending allegations against any Projet Montreal councillor when she commented back in 2020. Projet Montreal has a very rigorous policy against harassment."

With the municipal election just days away, Coderre called on Projet Montreal to tell the public if Sauvé is still a candidate in the Nov. 6-7 election.

“We want to know. Transparency is also the same thing that we should apply to her. We are three days before the vote; people have to know. Time to show that leadership so I'm expecting some answers,” Coderre said at a morning press conference flanked by his team members.

Reacting to the CBC report, Plante defended her actions at a morning press conference by saying that both parties involved in the complaint came to an agreement and that her party was “proactive” by putting the mediation process together.

“To me, it was a closed case,” she told reporters, adding that she has been “very transparent” throughout the process.

“There's nothing I'm ashamed of at this point,” she said.

“When I was asked the question about a current case I answered: No, there's no current case. It’s true.”

Before his resignation, Sauvé sat on the executive committee for Plante’s Project Montreal party, which the latest poll says is six points ahead of her biggest opponent, Denis Coderre of the Ensemble Montreal party, the race for mayor.

This is a developing story. More to come. 

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