Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov charged with sexual assault

WATCH: Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov has taken a leave of absence after being charged with sexual assault. As Sarah MacDonald reports, Vagramov says he's innocent and intends to fight the charges in court.

Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov has been charged with sexual assault.

The charge relates to an incident alleged to have happened in Coquitlam on April 1, 2015. Vagramov was a city councillor at the time.

City council held an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss the allegations.

WATCH: Disturbing news the mayor of Port Moody has been charged with sexual assault. Sarah MacDonald reports on this developing story.

LISTEN: Port Moody mayor charged with sexual assault

“When I heard the news today, I’m sure I feel as many others do I’ve been deeply troubled by the news, and saddened for everyone involved,” said Coun. Zoë Royer ahead of the meeting.

Royer said councillors would have a conversation in a closed meeting, but wouldn’t speculate on whether Vagramov could continue to serve as mayor in the wake of the allegations.

“Canada is a democracy where we are innocent until proven guilty, but having said that there is a deep burden on the community, and council will make that decision,” she said.

“We have very important decisions to make. And it’s decisions that ensure that the residents in our community come first and that city business continues to function in a very efficient way, so I am not sure what the discussion will be today, but I think that we have some critical decisions to make.”

Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov denies sexual assault allegation, takes leave of absence to fight charge

Vagramov responded to the allegation following the emergency council meeting, calling it false and saying he plans to fight the charge while taking a leave of absence from council starting Friday.

“When the allegation first surfaced during the October election campaign, I was horrified and and taken completely by surprise,” he said. “I intend to pursue in the court of law, where they belong.”

WATCH: Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov announces he will take a leave of absence to fight the charge in court

The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) says Vancouver lawyer Michael Klein was the special prosecutor in the case on Dec. 17, 2018, but the announcement was postponed pending the approval of charges.

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It says Klein was appointed “to avoid any potential for real or perceived improper influence in the administration of justice in light of the nature of the allegations and the identity of the accused as an elected municipal official.”

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Klein has been given a mandate to give legal advice to RCMP investigators, as well as conduct related charge assessments and lead prosecution of any charges approved, the BCPS said.

One such charge has now been approved, and Vagramov is due for his first appearance in Port Coquitlam Provincial Court on April 25.

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Vagramov was elected mayor of Port Moody in last October’s municipal election and had previously served as one of the city’s youngest-ever city councillors.

He has previously faced controversy after a 2014 social media video surfaced depicting him asking a homeless man to shotgun a beer in exchange for a sandwich.

—With files from Sean Boynton

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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