Embattled Port Moody mayor seeking out-of-court resolution to sex assault allegation

Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov’s sexual assault case returned to court on Thursday, though without the mayor himself in attendance.

Vagramov is charged with one count of sexual assault over an incident alleged to have taken place in 2015, when he was a city councillor. Vagramov has denied the allegation.

On Thursday, his lawyer said he was seeking to settle the case through alternative measures, a system available for lesser crimes when Crown determines avoiding prosecution could be more beneficial to a victim.

“The nature of the process is to attempt to resolve a dispute, and outside of the court resolution processes are effective, they’re good for all the parties, they’re good for the public, they’re things to which litigants turn in small claims matters, supreme court matters, it’s a process to resolve contentious matters,” said Vagramov’s lawyer Ian Donaldson on Thursday.

“If alternative measures are successful, I expect that the charge will ultimately be stayed or withdrawn.”

Vagramov’s next court date is scheduled for Nov. 13.

“We hope that we will have completed the outside of court process by then,” said Donaldson.

The mayor stunned many in the community when he returned to work after a five-month leave of absence on Monday.

Vagramov said his decision to return hinged on Crown prosecutors’ move to proceed with his case as a summary — rather than indictable — offence.

However, he has faced criticism since his return, with Port Moody Coun. Meghan Lahti saying he has “no business being at city hall” while the court case is ongoing.

The mayor also faced heat from constituents on Tuesday when he sat at his first council meeting since returning from leave.

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