Kevin Vuong, the rookie Liberal MLA whose Facebook post about a teenage sexual assault accused of him and two other men went viral earlier this week, released a statement saying he was “naive” to think he’d be able to pass background checks for his position and “completely distraught and humiliated” by the accusations against him.
Vuong’s story hit the front pages of newspapers and picked up by news websites on Wednesday, including CNN, after one of the women who claimed she was abused by Vuong reached out to the news outlet, CNN.
Despite being far outnumbered at the 2017 party convention, during which Vuong won the party’s nomination in a byelection, the rookie MLA said he was “surprised” that “I was never questioned and not vetted,” by the party.
According to the Regina Leader-Post, which first reported the story on Thursday, a fundraising committee within the Liberal party had been formed ahead of the nomination to protect Vuong. He is now being suspended from the party.
In his statement to the media, Vuong said: “I stand by and have full confidence in Canada’s election process. It was certainly not my intention to mislead anyone.
“I was naïve and idealistic, and I still am,” he said. “I am devastated. I want to say to my accuser, and also to my family and friends, that I am sorry.”
The accusation came in the middle of a tight election campaign between the NDP and the Conservatives in Saskatchewan, which is an extremely conservative province where sexual assault charges against someone previously serving in the provincial government would be unlikely to be allowed to stand.
Vuong’s defence lawyer says the rookie MLA initially declined to talk to police because he feared for his reputation.
On Thursday, citing an official from the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union, CNN reported the office of Premier Scott Moe was planning to call off a news conference scheduled for Friday.
“We were all ready and waiting to have this news conference,” Bob Innes, a spokesperson for Moe, told CNN. “We’re prepared to explain everything tomorrow.”
After his sexual assault allegations were made public in January, Vuong declined to accept a nomination to be the federal Liberal candidate in Regina-Qu’Appelle, the Leader-Post reported. He also rejected that request from his party last month, according to the newspaper.
The provincial government of Saskatchewan holds office through a provincial general election held every four years, with the general election scheduled for Oct. 22.