01/08/2015 01:39 EST | Updated 03/10/2015 05:59 EDT

Younger to stay in cabinet as he deals with personal issues: Nova Scotia premier

HALIFAX - Andrew Younger will remain in cabinet as he deals with personal matters that prompted him to take an indefinite leave of absence, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said Thursday.

McNeil said Younger's leave as energy minister will be assessed when the personal issues he is dealing with are addressed.

"He has asked for a leave of absence that is an indefinite period but that will be assessed when he comes back and says if his personal issues that he is dealing with are dealt with," McNeil said.

Younger, the member of the legislature for Dartmouth East, requested a temporary leave from his ministerial duties on Dec. 23, citing unspecified personal matters. He has been stripped of his ministerial compensation of about $49,000 but is maintaining his salary as a member, which is about $89,000.

McNeil said he didn't hear that Younger was a victim of an alleged assault until media reports on Tuesday that cited unnamed sources. Those reports said Younger was assaulted by a female Liberal staffer in October 2013 who now faces an assault charge.

"I heard nothing related to any of my staff or any elected members in any way," McNeil said. "If I had, I would've responded to them at the time I'd heard of them."

Halifax police would not confirm the reports but say a woman is due in court on an assault charge on Jan. 28.

Younger said in a statement released Wednesday that media reports have been inaccurate and speculative, but he has refused further comment on his reasons for taking leave. He also didn't say in his statement what inaccuracies have been reported.

Michel Samson, the economic development and tourism minister, has assumed Younger's cabinet portfolios while he is away.