The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has denied that it played a role in a Vincentian woman publicly telling Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in New York on Sept. 24 that he had “attacked” her at his law chambers when she was just 15 years old.
“The NDP didn’t paint the prime minister in a bad light. His accuser did so, not the NDP. And Mr. Astaphan knows that. He put himself in that corner,” NDP president Arnhim Eustace said.
His comments came at an NDP press conference last week, where he was asked to respond to a claim by Gonsalves’ lawyer, Dominican senior counsel Anthony Astaphan, that the NDP was behind the woman’s making the claims.
“We don’t have anybody charged with rape in our party you know. I don’t understand it. Our agenda has nothing to do with rape,” MP for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings, said at the same press conference.
Miranda Wood, 47, originally of Layou, is standing by her story that Gonsalves “attacked” her when she went to his office to ask for a donation after being selected to the national netball team at age 15.
She leveled the accusation to Gonsalves directly during the open forum of his annual town hall meeting in New York, where the prime minister was seated at the head table with his wife, Eloise Gonsalves.
Mr. Gonsalves has denied the allegation, telling Wood that she can make an allegation but that does not mean that it is true.
Wood has become the third woman to accuse the prime minister of sexual assault.
In 2008, a female police officer who was a member of Gonsalves’ security detail and a Canadian lawyer of Vincentian descent said Gonsalves had sexually assaulted them in separate incidents.
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.