Port Moody mayor Rob Vagramov has taken a leave of absence to deal with an assault charge laid against him by a special prosecutor.
In his place, different councillors will serve as the acting mayor on a rotating basis.
In a prepared statement delivered at Port Moody City Hall, Vagramov declared that the allegation is false and that he intends of filing a defamation suit against the complainant.
The charge concerns an incident that allegedly occurred in Coquitlam in 2015 when Vagramov was a member of Port Moody city council.
He won the mayoral race in October against incumbent Mike Clay by fewer than 400 votes.
Read Vagramov's statement below:
"Now, the allegation that has led to the charge that is out there is false and will be strongly challenged in court.
"When the allegation surfaced during the election campaign last year, I was horrified and taken completely by surprise.
"Now, the tale grew as it was being told and I want to be absolutely clear, this allegation is false. I intend on fighting it every step of the way, including filing a suit for defamation, for this continued attack on my character.
"I've been cooperating with the authorities throughout the investigation, including to agreeing to a polygraph tests about the events in question, which I have passed and which I have provided to the authorities.
"I expect that this legal matter will reach the stage where preparing properly for my defence will require my full-time attention and will take away from my ability to complete the work that I was elected to do as mayor of Port Moody.
"And as such and with the support of city council, I will be taking a leave of absence, starting tomorrow, to focus my full attention on clearing my name through the court system.
"Preparing for this time, we have an alternate mayor schedule, which draws from our own city councillors to ensure the uninterrupted business and continued good governance at city hall. And I can't stress how important that is.
"As this issue continues, this has nothing to do with the goings-on at city hall, as they are laid out.
"As someone who has been in contact with victims of sexual assault, I hope that this false accusation does not take away from the validity of other cases. And I'm thankful to live in a place where police take such claims extremely seriously.
"I would like to say more here and I look forward to airing and clearing my name in court.
"But as this is now a legal matter, while I may take a couple of questions here to clarify anything that I've said here, on advice from my legal counsel, I will not be making any further comments at this time.
At this point, I'll take a couple of questions, again, to clarify anything that I've said right now."
Vagramov took questions from reporters
The first question referred to specific allegations by the complainant.
"Like I said, the allegations that have led to this charge are false and I intend to pursue them in the court of law where they belong," Vagramov replied.
The next question was whether he would continue to chair the Port Moody police board.
"At this point, I do not feel comfortable participating in any police board activity while this case is underway," Vagramov said. "My absence from my role as the mayor will also take me off of the police board while my name is being cleared through the courts."
Then he was asked if there were any other allegations that he was aware of.
"Again, I'm not here to talk about the specifics. What I'm talking about here to clarify is what I just mentioned with regards to the charges that you are here to hear about."
The question was repeated in a lightly different form—"is there anything else we should know?"
"No sir," Vagramov said.