Patrick Brown, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives speaks to Londoners at the Lamplighter Inn, March 17, 2016. Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News.

Ontario PC Leader Resigns Over Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct

Ontario’s Opposition leader is stepping down amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Patrick Brown announced the decision in a statement just hours after a hastily-called news conference at the Ontario legislature to “categorically” deny what he called “troubling allegations” about his conduct.

But in his statement issued at about 1:30am on Thursday, Brown said that after consulting with caucus, friends and family, he has “decided to step down as leader” but would stay on as an MPP to clear his name.

Earlier in the evening, the Progressive Conservative leader called the last-minute news conference and addressed the media with a prepared statement.

“A couple of hours ago I learned about troubling allegations about my conduct and my character,” Brown said in his statement. “These allegations are false. Categorically untrue. Every one of them. I will defend myself as hard as I can with all the means at my disposal.

“I know the court of public opinion moves fast. I’ve instructed my attorneys to ensure that these allegations are addressed where they should — in a court of law.

“In short, I reject these accusations in the strongest possible terms. It’s not my values, it’s not how I [was] raised, it’s not who I am.”

After speaking, Brown left the news conference without taking any questions.

CTV National News has reported that two women have come forward with “graphic sexual misconduct allegations” against Brown.

Shortly after the news conference, Brown’s Chief of Staff Alykhan Velshi and campaign managers Andrew Boddington and Dan Robertson issued a statement that they had resigned their positions due to Brown’s refusal to step down as head of the PC Party.

“Earlier today, all three of us became aware of allegations about Patrick Brown. After speaking with him, our advice was that he should resign as PC Party leader. He did not accept that advice,” the statement said. “Since our view is that this advice was in the best interest of the PC Party, we have therefore resigned our positions.”

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued a statement Thursday evening, that said she was “disgusted and disturbed by these sexual misconduct allegations ”

“My thoughts are with the brave young women who have spoken out to describe horrible, degrading and unsafe experiences they say happened at the hands of Patrick Brown,” said Horwath. “Patrick Brown must resign, immediately.   He deserves his day in court, but no person can lead a political party in this province with allegations like these hanging over his head.”