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Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown says he is target of ‘fabricated political assassination’

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown speaks at a news conference at Queen's Park in Toronto on Jan. 24, 2018.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Patrick Brown has accused CTV News of fabricating a "malicious and false report" against him, the latest volley in a campaign he is waging on social media and in select interviews to clear his name.

"You lied. You defamed me," Mr. Brown said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. "I will not allow your brand of trashy journalism to hurt another person in this country."

Mr. Brown also told Global News on Wednesday he has been subjected to a "fabricated political assassination."

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Read more: The Weinstein domino effect: Who else is accused of sexual misconduct so far? Read the list

It was his first television interview since he was forced to resign as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives on Jan. 25 after CTV aired allegations of sexual misconduct with two young women. CTV said it stands by its reporting. Mr. Brown has not responded to an interview request from The Globe and Mail.

The stakes are enormous for the 39-year-old career politician. Mr. Brown became leader of the Ontario PC Party in 2015. Before then, he was a federal Conservative MP and city councillor in his home town of Barrie, Ont.

He is fighting to stay on as an MPP. Interim Leader Vic Fedeli has called on him to resign his seat in the provincial legislature.

Among the three people running to succeed Mr. Brown, Christine Elliott is the only one who has publicly said she would sign his nomination papers for the June 7 provincial election if he can clear his name.

Mr. Brown joins a growing list of high-profile men who have been forced to resign by the #MeToo movement, which began last fall with allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

The movement has given voice to many women who have said questionable behaviour in male-dominated bastions in politics, business and entertainment was covered up or ignored for decades. But Mr. Brown is one of the few to fight back. He challenged the two women CTV interviewed to take their complaints to the police.

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"These types of allegations should be dealt with in a proper and fair forum," Mr. Brown said on Facebook, and provided the phone number for the Barrie Police Service.

David Butt, a Toronto lawyer who represents one of Mr. Brown's accusers, said the former PC leader destroys the credibility of his "self-proclaimed support" for women who have suffered sexual mistreatment by "victim-shaming" and daring his client to go to the police.

"No one with a contemporary understanding of the dynamics of sexual victimization and its aftermath would be so insensitive and patriarchal as to try to dictate to a survivor what her healing path should be, much less goad her," Mr. Butt said.

The incidents described by CTV News are alleged to have taken place when Mr. Brown was an MP in Ottawa. CTV will continue to report on the story and will not be deterred by Mr. Brown's "groundless allegations," Matthew Garrow, the station's director of communications, said in a statement.

"His attacks on our journalistic practices are groundless and wrong," Mr. Garrow said. "CTV News continues to ask Patrick Brown if he thinks the two women accusing him of sexual misconduct are lying. He has yet to respond."

Mr. Brown took to Facebook on Wednesday – for the second time since last Sunday – after CTV News reported on Tuesday night that one of the women says she was not under the legal drinking age or in high school during one of the alleged incidents, as originally reported.

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However, the woman said in a statement released by Mr. Butt, her lawyer, that she stands by her allegations about Mr. Brown's conduct, saying "collateral details" from an incident many years ago are not important.

CTV News had initially reported that the woman met Mr. Brown at a local bar in Barrie with a mutual friend. She said he invited her to his home and provided them with alcohol. During a tour of his home, she alleged, he stopped in his second-floor bedroom with her and then exposed himself and asked her to perform oral sex on him. She did briefly and then left.

Mr. Brown said on Facebook on Sunday that he can prove the allegations are false: At the time of the alleged incident, he said, he lived in a ground floor, open-concept apartment.

The woman said in the statement released by her lawyer that she told CTV about her experience because she wanted to help other women feel safe in coming forward. But she said doing so has exposed her to abuse on social media, after someone revealed her identity.

"The comments made about me on social media were demeaning, victim-blaming and woman-hating," she said. "My privacy was invaded, my character was assassinated, and I was subjected to gratuitous slurs about my private life and relationships."

Mr. Brown told Global TV he is the one who was harmed. "I can't tell you how difficult the emotional toll has been on myself, on my family, on my friends, to be maligned on national television by absolute lies," he said.

The second allegation claimed Mr. Brown kissed a university student, who was working for him, in his bedroom during a party and climbed on top of her. The woman told The Globe on Wednesday that she stands by her story.

With a report from Laura Stone

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown says he "categorically" denies allegations made against him. Brown made a brief, late-night statement Wednesday. The Canadian Press
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