POLITICS

Cheri DiNovo, Ontario NDP MPP, Says She Was Raped

12/02/2014 12:38 EST | Updated 12/02/2014 12:59 EST
CP

Ontario New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo says she was the victim of sexual assault on two separate occasions.

DiNovo, a United Church of Canada minister who has represented the Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park since 2006, shared the revelations in an interview with Maclean's reporter Genna Buck, published online Tuesday.

The MPP said both assaults happened in her 20s and were not reported to the police.

DiNovo said the first incident involved an ex-boyfriend who chased her around the house after she said she did not want to have sex.

"I wouldn’t say he was violent exactly, but it was violence without having bruises. Finally, I just kind of succumbed," she said. "It was rape. There was no question about it. I didn’t tell anybody. I walked away and life went on. I'm a Baby Boomer, and I think for my generation it was just a common thing."

The second incident involved a stranger holding a knife to her neck in an alleyway and fondling her.

"So I've experienced both the 'stranger danger' version and the 'best friend' version of sexual assault," she told Maclean's.

The interview was conducted as part of a larger project on sexual assault and harassment.

Read DiNovo's interview with Maclean's

DiNovo currently serves as her party's critic for urban transportation, LGBTQ issues and Greater Toronto Area issues.

Just weeks ago, former deputy prime minister Sheila Copps stepped forward to say she was sexually assaulted by a colleague as a young MPP and later raped by someone she was dating.

Copps wrote in The Hill Times that she did not report the MPP who attacked her outside a hotel elevator but did kick him "where it hurts." Copps did go to the police after the rape, which she said occurred more than 30 years ago.

"I was informed that a conviction was impossible," she wrote. "Police merely paid a visit to the culprit warning him to keep his distance."

The disclosures from DiNovo and Copps come amid a wider national conversation about sexual violence and harassment toward women, spurred by the charges against former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi and the suspension of two male Liberal MPs for alleged misconduct toward two female NDP MPs.

Ghomeshi was charged last week with four counts of sexual assault and one count of "overcome resistance – choking." His lawyer said Ghomeshi will plead not guilty.

In early November, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau suspended two members of his caucus — Quebec MP Massimo Pacetti and Newfoundland’s Scott Andrews — over allegations of serious "personal misconduct" involving two NDP MPs.

New Democrats were sharply critical of Trudeau for suspending his MPs without first telling the alleged victims or discussing the matter with NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.

One of the alleged NDP victims told The Huffington Post Canada last week that she and Pacetti had sex without "explicit consent" and that it was painful. She later complained directly to Trudeau, which the Liberal leader has said left him with a "duty to act."

Sources also told The Canadian Press (CP) that Andrews is alleged to have forced his way into the home of another NDP MP, with whom he was spending time socially. Sources told CP Andrews pushed the MP against a wall and groped her before leaving at her request. He is also alleged to have later verbally harassed the MP by calling her a "c-ckteaser."

According to the National Post's John Ivison, Andrews was also reprimanded earlier in the fall by the Liberal whip after complaints emerged that he behaved inappropriately with a female Liberal staffer.

Both Pacetti and Andrews vehemently deny any wrongdoing.

House Speaker Andrew Scheer has offered "resources of the House administration as well as external experts in the field" for an independent investigation into the matter. One of the NDP MPs has said she may be willing to participate.

In the meantime, Liberals aim to conduct their own internal disciplinary investigation, to be led by a judge or lawyer with expertise resolving harassment complaints in the private sector.

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With files from The Canadian Press