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Senators worry Meredith sex scandal could loom for weeks

Toronto Star logo Toronto Star 2017-03-20 Alex Ballingall - Ottawa Bureau, Jesse Winter - Staff Reporter
NDP calls on Trudeau to intervene in Senate's dealings with Don Meredith: After avoiding the media for several days, Sen. Don Meredith apologized in an interview with the Canadian Press last week. © Provided by CBC After avoiding the media for several days, Sen. Don Meredith apologized in an interview with the Canadian Press last week.

OTTAWA—A lawyer who argued on TV that Sen. Don Meredith is the victim of a “lynch mob mentality” and wouldn’t be treated so harshly if he were part of an “old white boys club,” says he is no longer representing the embattled senator.

Selwyn Pieters wrote on Twitter Monday evening that he isn’t working as Meredith’s lawyer anymore. He said the change was made with his “blessing,” though it is unclear whether he was fired or quit.

He didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment from the Star on Monday.

“That was one of the shortest and most hectic retainer (sic) I have ever taken on in my legal career. — feeling thankful,” Pieters tweeted.

Senators of varying political stripes have called for Meredith’s resignation after an ethics report concluded that he used his position of power to lure a teenage girl into a sexual relationship.

A woman at the GTA Faith Alliance Learning Centre in Vaughan, where Meredith’s wife Michelle is listed as the Director of Education, refused to give her name and threatened to call the police when two Star reporters attempted to ask questions about the senator’s whereabouts. © Vince Talotta A woman at the GTA Faith Alliance Learning Centre in Vaughan, where Meredith’s wife Michelle is listed as the Director of Education, refused to give her name and threatened to call the police when two Star reporters attempted to ask questions about the senator’s whereabouts.

He is also being investigated for separate allegations of workplace harassment by the Senate’s ethics officer.

After avoiding the media for several days, Meredith apologized in an interview with the Canadian Press last week, but said that he will not resign. He also said that “racism has played a role” in the sex scandal, which was reported by the Star in 2015.

On Sunday, Pieters appeared on CTV to speak about his client’s case. “There’s a lynch mob mentality that’s going on right now that’s not helpful to anyone,” Pieters told the broadcaster.

He also said, “in some cultures people marry at 12. You have very old men marrying people at 12. So I don’t buy this thing about power and about protecting and all that sort of stuff.”

The teenager involved with Meredith was between 16 and 18 years old during the affair, according to the ethics report. Last year, the Ottawa police concluded an investigation without laying charges. The legal age of consent in Canada is 16, and goes up to 18 in situations where there is a relationship of authority, trust or dependency.

Meredith’s office did not respond to interview requests from the Star on Monday.

The Star tried to reach Meredith at his Richmond Hill home, where there was no answer to repeated phone calls and knocks at the door.

A woman at the GTA Faith Alliance Learning Centre in Vaughan, where Meredith’s wife Michelle is listed as the Director of Education, refused to give her name and threatened to call the police when two Star reporters attempted to ask questions about the senator’s whereabouts.

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