Austrian MP Peter Pilz resigns amid sexual harassment allegations | News | DW | 04.11.2017
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Austrian MP Peter Pilz resigns amid sexual harassment allegations

Prominent Austrian lawmaker Peter Pilz says he will be resigning his seat in parliament amid allegations of sexual harassment. Pilz is the latest in a series of high-profile men to be accused of sexual assault.

Pilz, pictured above, announced Saturday he had quit parliament and stepped down as head of his newly formed anti-establishment party amid allegations of sexual harassment.

"I've always fought for strict standards and these standards also apply to me," the leftwing MP said in a statement.

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Sexism: Male Perpetrators, Female Victims?

The weekly newspaper Falter reported Saturday that Pilz allegedly groped a female member of the center-right European People's Party during an Alpine conference four years ago.

The article included the woman's description of the incident in which she recalled that Pilz was "relatively drunk" at the time. 

Pilz told journalists that he had no recollection of the incident.

"Because of these accusations, which I take extremely seriously, even though I do not remember, I will not take up my mandate in the coming parliament," he said. "I will not be at the swearing-in ceremony on Thursday."

The 63-year-old has been a fixture in Austrian politics for decades. He was a Greens Party MP before he broke away to form his own party, Pilz List.

His new party outperformed the Greens in last month's election, crossing the 4 percent threshold to hold seats in parliament while the Greens fell short of that marker.

From Hollywood to Europe

He also rejected allegations made last week by a Greens Party member who accused Pilz of groping her. 

"Not remembering is no excuse," Pilz told a news conference, adding that Falter's editor in chief had assured him the report was thoroughly researched.

Pilz is the latest casualty in a cascade of sexual misconduct scandals, ranging from harassment to rape, that began last month in Hollywood with allegations against noted movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Symbolbild Bildkombi Opfer sexuelle Belästigung Harvey Weinstein (getty images / picture-alliance)

Weinstein and some of his accusers, clockwise from top left: Lupita Nyong'o; Angelina Jolie; Ashley Judd; Mira Sorvino; Gwyneth Paltrow; and Rose McGowen

Weinstein was ousted from his own production company and police have launched criminal investigations into sexual assault allegations against him.

The furor also prompted British Defense Minister Michael Fallon to resign this week. He was one of Prime Minister Theresa May's most trusted allies in a weakened government.

London, Michael Fallon (Reuters/S.Wermuth)

Michael Fallon, Britain's ousted defense minister

On Wednesday, May's office released Fallon's resignation letter.

"A number of allegations have surfaced about MPs [Members of Parliament] in recent days, including some about my previous conduct," Fallon wrote. "Many of these have been false but I accept that in the past I have fallen below the high standard we require of the armed forces that I have the honor to represent," he added.

Read more: May's rulebook for naughty Tories

bik/jlw (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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