Winnipeg Councillor Russ Wyatt Charged with Sexual Assault

Winnipeg Councillor Russ Wyatt Charged with Sexual Assault

Councillor Russ Wyatt (FILE)

WINNIPEG — City Councillor Russ Wyatt is facing a charge of sexual assault, police say.

Wyatt was arrested Tuesday evening following an investigation by the sex crimes unit.

Police say the charge stems from an incident on January 14, where a woman was allegedly seriously sexually assaulted. Police say the assault was not domestic in nature and the victim was not Wyatt’s wife.

Wyatt, 48, was released on a promise to appear.

The longtime Transcona councillor was first elected in 2002 and recently returned to city council after a stint at the Aurora Recovery Centre for substance abuse treatment near Gimli, Manitoba. Wyatt’s absence from January to May was initially unknown until he shared the news of his sudden departure with a newspaper. Upon his return at a council meeting in May, Wyatt appeared visually thinner and healthier.

Wyatt appeared to tease a run in Winnipeg’s upcoming fall municipal election on Twitter in June, saying a “Mayor Wyatt will not re-open Portage and Main” (to pedestrians). He has since deactivated his Twitter account.

Mayor Brian Bowman said he was shocked to learn of the charge.

“At no time until today did I learn that there was a criminal investigation that was ongoing,” Bowman said Wednesday.

Bowman referred questions about whether Wyatt could continue as councillor while facing charges to the city clerk’s office. The charges are very serious, he added.

“This matter is now before a court of law. There is an independent process and we’ll obviously respect that process going forward,” he said.

“My immediate thoughts, as we learn that there is an alleged victim, is to think about her.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

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