Patrick Brown suing CTV for libel over sex assault allegations report

Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown has served a notice of libel against CTV News over a story about sexual misconduct allegations against him.

In documents filed on Friday, Brown is charging CTV with “false, malicious, irresponsible and defamatory” reports made on January 21st in which two women accused Brown of sexual misconduct when he was a federal MPP.

Brown says the “defamatory words” have subjected him to “ridicule, hatred and contempt and have caused and will cause damage to his reputation.”

Brown is asking for an immediate broadcast and/or public apology and retraction but makes no mention of any monetary damages.

A spokeswoman for Brown said Saturday that he wouldn’t be commenting on the notice.

CTV said it has received a notice of libel and defended its work.

“CTV News stands by its reporting and will actively defend its journalism in court,” the network said in a statement.

Brown resigned as leader of the Ontario PC party on January 24th, but claims his letter of resignation was sent “on my behalf without my permission at the time.” He has vehemently denied the allegations, which have not yet been proven in court, saying there are discrepancies in the women’s stories.

In its original report, CTV said one woman, who is now 29, claimed she was in high school and under the legal drinking age when Brown allegedly asked her to perform oral sex on him at his home on a night when she had been drinking. Another woman said she was a university student working in Brown’s constituency office when, during a gathering at his home, he allegedly kissed her in his bedroom and got on top of her, CTV reported.

Earlier this month, CTV reported that the first accuser updated her timeline to reflect that she was not in high school or under the legal drinking age during the alleged incident, but that the core of her allegations remained unchanged. Brown’s second accuser has also said she stands by her story.

Simon Kiss, a digital media professor at Wilfrid Laurier University who focuses on political communication, said the legal salvo has potential to bolster Brown’s bid to reclaim the party leadership.

While lawsuits are always risky, the potential benefits outweigh the prospective drawbacks in this case, he said.

Future media coverage of Brown will now necessarily have to include the fact that a suit is in the works, he said, adding the move will reinforce Brown’s frequent protestations of innocence.

Media outlets may also be “a little more careful” about repeating the allegations levelled against him, Kiss added.

“There is a small downside in that it will keep this story in the news,” Kiss said. “But he needs to change people’s minds and lawsuits move slowly so it makes sense for the short term gain.”

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