Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace on Monday said he was “very concerned” that a third woman has come forward and accused Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of sexual assault.
Eustace was asked to comment at a press conference of his New Democratic Party (NDP) in Kingstown about the allegation, which was made in New York on Saturday.
“What I want to say about that now, I am very concerned that for the third time an individual has come forward to express sentiments indicating that she was raped or sexually molested by our prime minister. That is a matter of grave concern and that’s what I would say for today on that matter,” Eustace said.
In response to the question from the media Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock, who is one of two NDP vice-presidents, said the nation must guard against expecting that the NDP has to pronounce on every social issue.
“There must be a role for the media beyond ascertaining what the opposition feels on matters of such national import. If we had something as important as an embarrassment of a prime minister in a foreign country, then there are several agencies in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that should be speaking to that issue,” Leacock said.
Among those “agencies”, he listed women, the church, the legal profession, the media and all of civil society.
“And if we allow ourselves to get to that point where only the New Democratic Party speaks on the ills of the society, certainly, we have arrived at a state where, truly, we are a failed state.”
But ask if he appreciates that there is, in fact, a role for the NDP as the opposition and alternative government as far as these issues are concerned and that it is fair for the media to seek the view of the opposition on social issues, Leacock said:
“Absolutely. And we are not subcontracting that. You are hearing us today strategically targeting a matter of immediate importance, the petitions, which go to the root of our democracy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and on which we will not relent.”
On Saturday, 47-year-old Miranda Wood, a former netballer, who is originally from Layou, told Gonsalves at his annual town hall meeting in New York that he “attacked” her when, as a 15-year-old, she went to his office three decades ago to ask for a donation after she was selected to the national netball team.
She has become the third woman to publicly accused Gonsalves of sexual assault. In March 2008, a female police office assigned to Gonsalves’ security detail and a Canadian lawyer of Vincentian descent accused Gonsalves of sexually assaulting them.
The Director of Public Prosecution, Colin Williams, discontinued the cases brought against Gonsalves before trial because of insufficient evidence and his decisions were upheld on appeal.
Gonsalves has maintained his innocence in all three cases of alleged sexual assault.