Schaerbeek's #MeToo: Councillor charged with attempted sexual assault

Schaerbeek's #MeToo: Councillor charged with attempted sexual assault
Schaerbeek's disgraced Councillor for Education Michel De Herde. Credit: Belga.

Police have charged Michel De Herde (DéFI), Schaerbeek's Councillor for Education, with attempted sexual assault on a student, after having been previously accused of harassing a female colleague.

When it was revealed last summer that Schaerbeek's Councillor for Equality Sihame Haddioui (Ecolo) had accused her colleague De Herde of sexually harassing her, protestors took to the steps of the municipality's town hall and requested that he be suspended, which was not enacted by the municipal council.

In early October, rumours began to circulate that De Herde was facing another accusation, this time of sexually assaulting a student, as feminist activist Anne Toumazoff had told The Brussels Times may happen.

The councillor later took a medical leave of absence after learning that his potential victim had filed a complaint against him, as Sihame Haddioui had done a few months before.

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On Wednesday, after investigators seized documents in his offices and home and interrogated him. The Brussels Public Prosecutor's Office confirmed that De Herde has been charged with attempted sexual assault by a person with authority over their victim. In the meanwhile, he has been released under strict conditions.

Furthermore, DéFI, which had previously asked for the presumption of innocence to be upheld, has indicated that De Herde will be facing an internal party hearing to determine his future within the party.

If proven guilty, Michel De Herde's would be suspended of all current mandates. In response, he has once again denied all charges and complaints levelled against him.

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