It came as a total shock to hear that Gerry Slavounos, the Member of the National Assembly of Quebec of Greek origin, was forced to resign fροm the Liberal caucus following alleged charges of sexual assault.
Apparently, Alice Paquet, a 21-year old participant at a vigil for victims of sexual abuse at the University of Laval, took the floor and announced, in dramatic fashion to a stunned audience, that she, herself, had been a victim of sexual abuse by a sitting member of the National Assembly.
The very next day, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard accepted the resignation of Mr. Sklavounos from his caucus, who is now sitting as an independent MNA, while Ms. Paquet was invited to make the rounds of numerous radio and television programs, telling a story filled with gaps and contradictions.
At first, she claimed that, after the initial incident, which occurred in 2014, she went to the police, who, allegedly, discouraged her from filing a complaint because Sklavounos was a public person and she would not be believed. Shortly afterwards, she altered that story line, saying that it wasn't the police but, rather, her friends and family who discouraged her from proceeding. In the meantime, the police had already issued a statement in which they stated that they had repeatedly tried to reach Paquet, to resume the legal process and confirm the details of her story, but that she never responded to their calls.
Paquet noted that she willingly went to Sklavounos’ room but claimed, although they were kissing, “that foreplay is not a contract for sex.” She also admitted that she could not remember if she had said “no” and that she had returned to have sex with him again two weeks later. “I’m a little masochist,” she said. “I can’t say I said no clearly. I don’t remember. But I know very well I didn’t say yes. If a woman doesn’t feel free to say no, she is being raped. If she feels uneasy, it’s rape.”
Miss Paquet’s interviews are filled with so many gaps, inconsistencies and ambiguities that, taken as testimony, are likely insufficient for the pressing of charges, let alone the conviction, of assault. Regardless, Gerry Sklavounos languishes without a caucus seat and has been pilloried as an
“aggressor” in the media of Quebec and Canada.
As a woman, I fully respect women’s rights and I strongly support those who have been the victims of rape, even verbally, as it is their inalienable right, even their obligation, to denounce all rapists who must be severely punished.
However, when a young girl, such as Alice Paquet, accuses a public persona of sexual assault, the worst form of violence, and proceeds to overturn, one after another, the scenarios of her personal narrative, then I wonder how the media can so effortlessly embrace a story without proof or investigation, socially condemning someone without any regret.
Importantly, Alice Paquet’s claims have the effect of weakening the position of women who have experienced sexual violence. Instead of solidifying the case of women who have actually suffered the horror of male violence, she weakens it, fomenting suspicion in future cases. In fact, such unsubstantiated stories have the effect of ridiculing complaints of sexual violence.
Before the castigation of anyone, there must be a thorough investigation of the events. It is irresponsible of our society, whether it be represented by politicians or the media, to accept, at face value, any unsupported complaint, in effect turning the twisting and falsification of events into an iconic reality .
Silence and shame are unacceptable when it comes to women's violence but lies and unsupported accusations weaken every assaulted woman’s position.