Quebec MNA Harold LeBel to plead not guilty to sexual assault charges: lawyer

Parti Quebecois MNA Harold Lebel during question period, Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. Colleague Martin Ouellet, left, looks on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Quebec MNA Harold LeBel will plead not guilty to the charge of sexual assault brought against him, according to his lawyer, Maxime Roy.

LeBel appeared at the Rimouski courthouse by videoconference on Monday. He was arrested by Surete due Quebec officers on December 15, then expelled from the Parti Québécois caucus lat that same day.

The event leading to LeBel’s arrest is alleged to have occurred in 2017. The identity of the alleged victim is protected by a publication ban.

In a Dec. 17 statement, LeBel maintained that he had “nothing to be ashamed of” and added that he wanted to continue to exercise his duties as Member of the National Assembly for Rimouski. 

Prosecutor Manon Gaudreault indicated that the evidence consisted of three audio-video recordings which will be transcribed, and sealed packages. 

The news of LeBel's arrest felt like a bomb shell in the National Assembly, where the MNA had a good reputation. Just prior to his arrest he had just been deemed “Best Representative of his Constituency'' in a survey of MNAs conducted by La Presse.

He was the PQ's employment and social solidarity critic.

 - This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2021.

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