QUEBEC CITY – A former city councillor in the Laurentians, north of Montreal, has filed a police complaint against Argenteuil MNA Yves St-Denis, claiming she was sexually assaulted last year, HuffPost Quebec has learned.
Marjorie Bourbeau claims that St-Denis tried to forcefully kiss her in her home last year. It's the third allegation of inappropriate behaviour levelled against the provincial politician this month.
St-Denis quit the Liberal caucus last week, after admitting he sent a sexually explicit photo in 2014 to a party employee. The following day, HuffPost reported that his cousin, Nathalie St-Denis, had come forward to accuse him of sexual assault in 1998, when she was 16 and he was 24.
On Sunday, St-Denis took to Facebook to dispute the claims against him. He wrote that sending the image of a man receiving oral sex was "a serious lapse in judgement," but maintained that he is the target of "all kinds of exaggerations, lies and defamations" aimed at ending his political career.
As for his cousin's allegation, St-Denis denied them several times in a phone interview with HuffPost, and suggested she had a troubled past.
Bourbeau's allegation — which St-Denis has also denied — contains circumstances similar to the story told by Nathalie St-Denis.
Bourbeau was a city councillor in Saint-Adolphe-d'Howard between 2013 and 2017, and said she often crossed paths with St-Denis, the MNA for the region, at public events. They had frequent conversations about regional projects, such as the Hydro-Quebec transmission lines in the municipality, which Bourbeau opposed.
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In April 2017, St-Denis wrote her on Facebook Messenger to wish her happy birthday and offered to organize an event with her friend Naömie Goyette, who was a Liberal byelection candidate in nearby Saint-Jérôme at the time.
Goyette is now running for the Liberals in the upcoming provincial election in the riding of Prévost.
According to messages shared with HuffPost, St-Denis invited Bourbeau to his house in Terrebonne, for karaoke. She declined the invitation, but suggested they meet at a later date somewhere closer to Saint-Adolphe-d'Howard.
Bourbeau said she finally agreed to meet St-Denis and Goyette after an event with the mayor of Saint-Adolphe-d'Howard, Lisette Lapointe, on May 25.
They went out to eat in a restaurant in Saint-Sauveur, then returned to Goyette's house for karaoke and a few drinks.
Goyette confirmed that at the end of the evening, she suggested St-Denis and Bourbeau stay overnight in her two guest bedrooms, since they had been drinking and she didn't want them to drive. She then went to bed. The next morning, her two guests were gone.
After Goyette went to bed, Bourbeau said St-Denis asked her if they could go to her place instead, she said.
"I was still pretty surprised and a little uncomfortable. I didn't really understand why he wanted to come over." But he insisted, she said, so she agreed but told him "very clearly" that he would sleep on the couch or in the guest bedroom in the basement.
'He's quite an imposing person'
When they arrived at her home, St-Denis allegedly asked her if he could sleep in her room. He followed up by saying that he was in an open relationship with his then-spouse and insisted "he needed to spoon," and that nothing would happen, Bourbeau recounted.
The city councillor said she flatly refused, directing him to the couch or the door. Then she went to bed, she said, while he played piano in her living room.
Bourbeau claims St-Denis later entered her room, sat on her bed and tried to kiss her on the lips several times. Seeing that she turned her head to avoid him, he allegedly stroked her hair and showered her with compliments.
"I didn't really feel like dealing with such an embarrassing situation," she told HuffPost. "He's quite an imposing person, physically, so I was a bit trapped." She said she pushed him away and fought back, and then ended up in tears. He eventually left, she said.
St-Denis was unavailable for an interview Monday regarding these new allegations. But in an email that evening, he wrote that he "officially denies" perpetrating "any kind of sexual assault or harassment towards anyone," even though he did not have the full description of Bourbeau's claims.
Bourbeau said she had wanted to denounce him for a while. But it wasn't until she learned of the compromising photo sent by the MNA to a Liberal employee last Tuesday that she filed a complaint with the Sûreté du Québec.
The police force would not confirm whether a complaint had been filed against St-Denis.
Bourbeau said she told few people about the alleged incident. Lise Chowdhury, a friend of Bourbeau, confirmed hearing about the incident for the first time last summer.
Bourbeau said she didn't want to speak out immediately after the alleged assault, because she didn't want to affect the relationship between the municipality and the MNA's office. She is no longer a councillor, as of last fall.
Goyette said she only learned of the incident on Monday but is ready to co-operate with a police investigation if necessary. "I know Marjorie very well, she's a friend. Honestly, if she felt the need to speak out, I totally support her."
Last week, when confronted with similar allegations from his cousin, St-Denis said that his relationships with women have always been above reproach.
"In spite of what they're saying about me, I have a huge amount of respect for women, ma'am. A great deal of respect," he told HuffPost. "I am not hiding the fact that I've been single, that I'm a ladies' man, but I have a great amount of respect for women, beyond what you can even imagine."
Bourbeau felt encouraged to speak publicly about her experience, she said, after she read the allegations of Nathalie St-Denis, the MNA's cousin.
"It's easy to say you've had poor judgment. But we elect these people because of their judgment. People need to know that there isn't only one woman who's been the victim of Mr. St-Denis' sexual misconduct," she said.
"It doesn't change the fact that he's done good things for his county, for his city, for certain citizens. But in my opinion, it isn't appropriate behavior for an MNA and I think Mr. St-Denis should take a long, hard look at the future of his political career."