Calgary’s deputy mayor resigns amid investigation
Matthew Hillier, Staff Writer
Calgary City Council has met and re-evaluated the new deputy mayor roster amid allegations of sexual assault during Coun. Sean Chu’s time as a police officer resurfaced. In response, Chu stepped down as deputy mayor.
On Nov. 4, the person who was reported to be the survivor of Chu’s sexual assault, who goes by the Twitter account @HHCalgary, posted a thread detailing the assault against her when she was still a minor in 1997. HH also detailed the mishandling of the case for over nine years by Calgary Police.
“In 25 years little has changed in how police forces deal with the victim of sexual assault. Especially when the perpetrator is/was one of their own. It is déjà vu with some of the same adversarial conduct. The public is watching in real-time. I hope to see meaningful changes,” one tweet states.
HH has also started a Gofundme to cover her legal costs in filing a lawsuit against Chu which has reached its $25,000 goal.
HH claims that when she was 16 and Chu, 36 and still a member of Calgary police, touched her leg under a table and later sexually assaulted her at Chu’s home. A direct witness claims that a firearm was used in the later assault at Chu’s home.
Chu denies the allegations and says that he was unaware of the age of the person he had sexual relations with.
Chu was given a five-year reprimand for ‘discreditable conduct’ in 2003 and ordered to work with an ethics committee after a five-year process of appeals and trials before his appointment to deputy mayor.
The resurfaced allegations, the five-year-long court process and Chu’s continued involvement with both the Calgary police and the Mayor’s office have raised questions about his role as deputy mayor going forward and how his ties to Calgary police may have impacted the subsequent investigations.
In response, Calgary police commission’s public complaint director, Deborah Petriuk, in a filed review, stated that ‘errors’ were made during that initial investigation 25 years ago and that the initial investigation did not seem to be completed.
The city of Calgary is also taking action after the HH allegations resurfaced. On Nov. 15, the Council’s Chamber held an urgent special meeting to reconsider Chu’s role as a deputy mayor for December 2022 and May 2023. He will then be replaced by Councillor Chabot for December 2022 and Councillor Walcott for 2023.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek, in a Livewire Calgary podcast, has also commented on this case amid the allegations and expressed frustration about the inflexibility of Chu’s current position as deputy mayor.
“We are in a position where we have been damned by the public for not doing anything about this situation, where you have a councillor who’s been found to have had inappropriate sexual relations with a child, and we can’t remove him. We can’t stop him from performing his duties, because according to the legislation, he has to be allowed to do that.”
Chu in his former role as deputy mayor sits on meetings that the mayor is unable to attend and represents her as an emissary at public meetings.
A recent article from CTV News claims that Gondek called the initial council meeting after she realized that Chu would have to represent her in a December meeting she would miss and his representation amid the allegations would be inappropriate.
During that special council meeting, Gondek talked about how earlier this year, her safety was put at risk when Chu took a photo of her license plate in a secured location and later shared it with a member of the public.
Gondek said in that meeting, “I am not comfortable liaising with Councillor Chu’s office or entrusting him with the responsibilities [as] deputy mayor .”
In the same meeting, Chu apologized to Mayor Gyondek, quoting “I accept the punishment which is that I am not allowed to park in executive parking, but I [have] to park in the public parkade.”