Sexual assault charge against former MP Romeo Saganash stayed

Former NDP MP Romeo Saganash is no longer facing a sexual assault charge, after a Manitoba judge agreed to stay the criminal offence on Tuesday.

Winnipeg police arrested Saganash, who represented the northern Quebec riding of Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou from 2011 to 2019, last June for an alleged sex assault that his accuser says happened on May 1, 2023, in Winnipeg.

Saganash was referred to the province’s restorative justice program last October, and Crown prosecutor Bruce Sychuk told court on Tuesday that Saganash “was a successful participant” in the program.

“As a result we’re now in a situation where we’re asking that he enter into a peace bond,” Sychuk said Tuesday in a Winnipeg courtroom, where he also asked provincial court Judge Rob Finlayson to stay the charge against Saganash.

The peace bond requires that Saganash have no contact or communication with his accuser, Carmen Roy, for one year, Sychuk said.

It also requires him to “keep the peace [and] be of good behaviour,” Sychuk said.

There are two exceptions to the peace bond, which is a type of protection order, because Roy has filed a civil suit against Saganash that is still before the Manitoba Court of King’s Bench: Saganash is allowed to have indirect contact with Roy through legal counsel, and he is allowed to see her in person with lawyers present for the purpose of the civil claim.

Ethan Pollock, Saganash’s lawyer, said he reviewed the conditions of the court order with Saganash, who is “aware and agreeable to the terms.”

Roy, who fought to have her name released in the case, filed a lawsuit against Saganash on April 30. In it, she gave details about the alleged assault for the first time, saying Saganash sexually touched her during a meeting they were part of in Winnipeg. She now lives with “psychiatric, psychological, emotional and physical injuries,” the claim alleges.

The lawsuit also says she never wanted prosecutors to refer his charge to the restorative justice program, nor was she ever consulted about it.

The province’s website says its approach to restorative justice “focuses on ‘restoring’ relationships, fixing the damage that has been done and preventing more crimes from occurring.”

The approach “may be used at any stage of a case” by police or prosecutors.

Saganash, a Cree lawyer and residential school survivor, was appointed to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s advisory committee on missing children and unmarked graves by the federal government in 2022. Roy is the executive assistant to the organization’s executive director, Stephanie Scott.

Saganash was suspended from the committee after Roy’s allegations surfaced.