Former speaker David Laxton faces sexual assault charge

Porter Creek Centre MLA and former Speaker David Laxton has been charged with sexual assault.

Updated:

Porter Creek Centre MLA and former Speaker David Laxton has been charged with sexual assault.

The charges were laid on Aug. 8 in connection with an alleged sexual assault that occurred in February, 2016. Laxton made his first court appearance on Aug. 31 and was slated to appear again this morning.

Both Laxton and the alleged victim declined to comment on the charge when the News reached them by phone on Monday morning.

The RCMP also declined to provide any information about the case, other than to confirm that chargesShave been laid.

Laxton abruptly left the Yukon Party and resigned as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly on May 10, a week after announcing he would seek re-election in Porter Creek Centre.

He later revealed the decision was related to an allegation of sexual harrassment made against him. He said the incident occurred during a meeting in his office with a long-time acquaintance, whom he hugged and kissed twice on the mouth as they were parting ways.

The legislative assembly is now developing a sexual harassment policy in the wake of that incident. Other jurisdictions in Canada already have such policies in place.

Helen Fitzsimmons, a director with the legislative assembly office, said the all-party members’ services board committee is considering a policy that would cover incidents between MLAs, between MLAs and other staff, and between MLAs and members of the public.

If such a policy were adopted, it would be the first in Canada to govern interactions between MLAs and the public, she said.

“Everybody else has a policy in place, but it’s all members against members or members against staff.”

She said the policy won’t preclude people from going to the RCMP or to the Yukon Human Rights Commission as well.

Fitzsimmons said there’s no timeframe for completion of the policy, but the committee will try to have it done before the territorial election is announced. Once the writ is dropped, she explained, there will no longer be a Members’ Services Board.

Jessica Lott Thompson, the director of the human rights commission, said sexual harassment policies relating to MLAs are fairly recent in Canada.

“MLAs as elected members have what’s called parliamentary privilege, which has historically led to a slower pattern of adoption of sexual harassment policies as compared to the general public and the business community,” she said.

After leaving the Yukon Party, Laxton sat for the rest of the legislative session as an Independent MLA.

In June, the Yukon Party officially cut ties with him, and announced it would seek a new candidate for his riding.

Since then, Laxton has not confirmed whether he plans to run for office as an Independent. On Monday, he said he will wait until the criminal charge is resolved before making a decision about his political future.

Contact Maura Forrest at maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

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