A special prosecutor has approved a charge of sexual assault against Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov after an investigation that began Dec. 17, 2018.
According to a press release from the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) Thursday, the alleged assault occurred in Coquitlam in 2015.
Michael Klein QC was appointed special prosecutor late last year under section 7 of the Crown Counsel Act because of the nature of the complaint and the identity of the accused as an elected municipal official.
Klein is a senior Vancouver lawyer in private practice who had been given a mandate to provide legal advice to the RCMP investigators, conduct any related charge assessment and assume conduct of the prosecution if charges are approved.
Vagramov, 26, who faces the charge under section 271 of the Criminal Code, is scheduled to make his first appearance in Port Coquitlam provincial court April 25.
According to a BCPS statement, the announcement of a special prosecutor was postponed while the investigation took place but has been revealed now that charges have been approved.
Vagramov is serving the first term as mayor of Port Moody, having won a hotly-contested election in October 2018. As mayor, he is chair of the Port Moody Police Board.
Port Moody councillors have been called to an emergency meeting at city hall today at 3 p.m.
PoMo Coun. Diana Dilworth confirmed to The Tri-City News that she learned of the charge through the media and wouldn't be providing any more comment.
During the civic election, Vagramov promised to slow development in the city, a theme that captivated many voters in the contest with the then-incumbent Mayor Mike Clay.
But he was dogged by controversy when a video of him with a homeless person surfaced, raising concerns about his character and candidacy. In the profanity-laden clip recorded in 2014 — the year he was elected a city councillor — Vagramov filmed himself as he offered a homeless person outside the Granville Street SkyTrain station in downtown Vancouver a sandwich in exchange for shotgunning a beer with him. He said to the camera that he was making the video after being nominated by another person on social media to conduct a "random act of kindness."
"I was pretty excited to get f---ed up, to be honest with you, until I realized it was a random act of kindness nomination," he said into the camera. "So let's see if we can't do both and make somebody's day."
The then 26-year-old mayoralty candidate said the video was posted when he was “fresh out of college” and didn’t reflect his current views.
He also posted his own 13-minute video on Facebook of himself speaking with a homeless advocate.
The earlier video made some of his supporters uncomfortable, but only Rick Glumac, MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam and a former PoMo city councillor, distanced himself from Vagramov. Glumac re-connected with Vagramov on election night when the one-term councillor won the mayoral's job.
Since being elected, Vagramov has advocated for the removal of the David Avenue right-of-way in Bert Flinn Park. BUt in January, council voted to defer any moves to formally remove the right of way until a strategic plan has been formulated.
Up to four Port Moody councillors had planned to travel to Harrison Hot Springs for a conference put on by the Columbia Institute this Friday and Saturday.
Vagramov had sought funding for all of city council to attend the Higher Ground civic governance forum that includes workshops about climate change, inclusion in schools, green jobs and using technology to increase citizen engagement. The Columbia Institute is a national charitable organization based in Vancouver that “fosters inclusive, sustainable communities,” according to its website.
However, after councillors expressed concern, the contingent was dialled back to four, at a cost of $1,160 per person.
More to come...