The latest allegations of sexual assault against the mayor of Woodstock, Ont. will be considered during an Oxford County council meeting to be held Wednesday night.
London Police Service announced Tuesday that Trevor Birtch has been charged with three counts of sexual assault. Police say the alleged victim was known to Birtch.
Sources confirmed to CTV News that Woodstock council was made aware of the new charges on April 17 and voted to put him on a paid leave of absence — and on Wednesday night, Oxford County will likely do the same.
Voting on a proposed resolution to approve a leave of absence with pay until his court proceedings are concluded, but not to exceed the end of his term.
These new charges come weeks after London police laid three other charges against Birtch in February for alleged incidents from last year.
Police say the new charges are in relation to a different alleged victim.
Birtch is scheduled to appear in court Monday May 2, 2022 on the initial charges, and again on July 4 for the new charges.
Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Western University Andrew Sancton tells CTV News there is always a plan in place when a mayor is on a leave and that business will carry on as usual. But these allegations will likely have an impact on the mayor’s reputation, especially during an election year.
“Wait and see what the judicial process brings, but mayor’s have actually ruined their reputation on issues that are much less severe than this, so I would say even if the mayor is ultimately acquitted, people in Woodstock when they are assessing whether they want this to person be a mayor or not, I think they are likely to be able to find other people who could perform that function,” said Sancton.
Under Ontario’s Municipal Act, politicians facing criminal charges can stay in office even if convicted, only a jail sentence disqualifies a municipal politician from holding office.
Tonight’s Oxford County meeting council can be live streamed beginning at 7 pm