ONTARIO’S Brampton Council on Wednesday suspended City and Peel Region Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon for three months without pay after he was found to be in violation of the city’s council code of conduct by its Integrity Commissioner Muneeza Sheikh in connection to an alleged sexual assault during last November’s trade mission.
The Council also voted to remove him from city committees, ban him from travel outside the province on city business, and required him to apologize to the complainant, according to the Toronto Star. He can only communicate with the public through his city email address and is barred from municipal offices, except to retrieve mail or attend council meetings.
Dhillon said in a statement: “I am deeply troubled by city council’s politically motivated decisions today in response to the integrity commissioner’s flawed report. I have and continue to vehemently deny all allegations against me and have commenced legal action.”
He added: “As noted many times in today’s council meeting, this investigation began without a formal complaint and has been tainted from the start. The numerous inconsistencies in the complainant’s story have never been reconciled. Nor was I afforded due process.”
He said: “Amidst their grandstanding, council rushed to judgment today and called for my resignation. I will not do that.”
Dhillon’s lawyer, Nader Hassan, said the councillor has launched an application for a judicial review.
The penalties do not affect Dhillon’s role on Peel Regional Council.
The Brampton Guardian had reported last December that the alleged sex assault incident took place in the complainant’s hotel room in Turkey on November 14 during a Canada-Turkey Business Council trade delegation. The complainant’s attorney told the newspaper: “At least part of the whole incident is captured on an audio file where my client is telling him under no uncertain terms that she wants to be left alone and that he should leave.”
Dhillon’s lawyer told Brampton Guardian back then that his client adamantly denied the allegations and called them completely baseless.
According to the alleged victim’s lawyer at the time (as reported in the Brampton Guardian): “Canada foreign affairs were contacted — or at least representatives from the Canadian Mission in Turkey were contacted — (and) nothing was really done. She was not taken to a hospital. Back in Canada, any investigation that might have been carried out seems to have withered and died on the vine. She’s spoken to police. No charges have been laid.”
According to Sheikh, Dhillon violated four rules in the council code of conduct: harassment; discreditable conduct; failure to adhere to council policies and procedures; and reprisals and obstruction.
According to the Toronto Star, the complainant can be heard in a cellphone audio recording she made saying “no” to Dhillon 74 times over the course of 2 minutes and 57 seconds.