Toronto MP Kevin Vuong faces military charge for not reporting 2019 arrest

Toronto MP and naval reservist Kevin Vuong, whose time in office has been clouded by sexual assault charges that were later dropped, is facing fresh charges for not reporting his initial arrest to his commanding officer.

As first reported by CBC, the Royal Canadian Navy charged Vuong on Feb. 25 under a section of the National Defense Act that requires any officer or non-commissioned member of the military arrested by a civilian authority to “cause that arrest to be reported to the member’s commanding officer.”

Vuong was charged with sexual assault in 2019, and the charges were dropped later that year. In a statement at the time, the rookie politician said he “unequivocally” denied any wrongdoing.

The Liberals fired him as their candidate for Spadina—Fort York days before the 2021 election, but he edged out the NDP candidate to win the seat nonetheless.

In an email, a spokesperson for National Defense confirmed the charge and said Vuong has yet to choose between a summary trial or court martial.

If found guilty at trial, Vuong could face anything from a fine or reprimand, to a dismission with disgrace.

Vuong is a member of the reserve, though he has requested that his service be paused for almost two months in the run up to the election.

In an interview with Newstalk 1010 last fall, Vuong expressed regret for not telling voters and Liberal campaign officials that he’d been charged with sexual assault, calling himself “naive,” and “too eager” to be the first Liberal of Vietnamese-Canadian heritage to be elected to parliament.

He said that he though because the charges had been withdrawn he didn’t need to disclose them.

According to court documents, the sexual assault charge against Vuong was withdrawn on Nov. 27, 2019, seven months after he was charged and before the case had proceeded to trial.

“I met with the complainant in this matter for some time, and the officer in charge. (The complainant) had a number of personal issues happening right now,” Crown prosecutor Louise Collins told the court, according to a transcript. “I have reviewed this case again and decided it would not be in the public interest to proceed any further.”

In an interview with the Star, the complainant said she went on several dates with Vuong after they met on a dating app in early 2019. (It is the Star’s policy to grant anonymity to people who allege they are victims of sexual assault.)

On April 8, 2019, she said Vuong came over to her home and the two watched a movie, went to bed and fell asleep. Not long after, she said she was woken up by Vuong touching her inappropriately.

She says she locked herself in the bathroom and called a friend, who came over and told Vuong to leave.

The complainant said she told the Crown lawyer she “didn’t have the energy” to go to trial. She said she was unaware that the charges had been dropped until informed by the Star, or that Vuong was running for office until she returned to Toronto shortly before the election and saw her face on election signs.

The Star has reached out to Vuong for comment.


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