Senator Brazeau charged with sexual assault

Senator Patrick Brazeau (L) arrives at the Gatineau Court House February 8, 2013.



GATINEAU, Que. -- Sen. Patrick Brazeau was released on bail Friday morning after being formally charged with assault and sexual assault.

Wearing a dark suit and no tie during his brief court appearance across the river from Ottawa in Gatineau, Que., Brazeau, 38, quietly answered the few questions put to him by Judge Anne-Marie Charette.

The judge released him on $1,000 bail, but he cannot communicate with the alleged victim and must stay 150 metres away from her and her home.

Good behaviour is also a condition of his release and he must turn in all firearms and notify authorities of any address changes.

He left the courthouse Friday around 10:45 a.m. after posting bail.

Brazeau made no statement to the media as he left the building.

His next court appearance is scheduled for March 22, when he will have to enter a plea.

The Crown is proceeding by way of summary conviction, which comes with a lesser penalty than an indictable offence. If convicted, Brazeau faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail for the assault charge and 18 months for the sexual assault charge.

The controversial senator was turfed from the Conservative caucus Thursday, not long after police were called to his home in Gatineau.

Police interrogated Brazeau in the afternoon and executed a search warrant at his home.

On Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the situation "extremely appalling."

"We're quite shocked and disappointed with this situation," he said during a news conference in Burnaby, BC.

Conservative MP Eve Adams called the charges against Brazeau "very serious."

"Violence against women is never acceptable," she said.

"It's offensive to women. It's offensive to men who respect women. And if the allegations are true, I'd call on Sen. Brazeau to resign."

On Tuesday, the government caucus in the Senate will bring forward a motion to place Brazeau on a leave of absence with pay.

Brazeau is a former national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.

He attracted controversy for challenging First Nations leaders associated with the Idle No More movement.

He is also under scrutiny for a taxpayer-funded housing allowance he receives. Brazeau billed taxpayers more than $20,000 for his national capital housing allowance by claiming his primary residence is in Maniwaki, Que.

Senators can claim a national capital housing allowance if their primary residence is more than 100 km from Parliament. Maniwaki is 130 km away.

During his court appearance Friday, Brazeau gave the judge the Maniwaki address as his residence.


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