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Woman alleges inappropriate conduct against PM Gonsalves

Woman alleges inappropriate conduct against PM Gonsalves

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A town hall meeting on Saturday deteriorated into chaos, following allegations by a woman that Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves had behaved inappropriately towards her when she was a teenager.

A woman identifying herself as Miranda Wood made the allegation during the question and answer segment of the meeting held at the Friends of Crown Heights Centre in Brooklyn, New York.

The woman, who said she was from Layou, a town on the west coast of mainland St Vincent, was the second person to ask a question.{{more}}

As she took the floor, she asked the Prime Minister if he remembered her.

“Mr Gonsalves, do you remember me? Or let me take off my glasses, Do you remember,” she asked, as the crowd became unsettled and chatter increased.

“If I were to see you close and I talk with you, maybe I would remember you,” Gonsalves responded.

Continuing, Wood directed her first question to Deputy Prime Minister Sir Louis Straker, who was also in the audience.

The woman, believed to be in her late forties, asked why is it that Straker has not made public, documentation to show that he has denounced citizenship of the United States – a requirement for him to be eligible to run for elected office in SVG.

“…Camillo [Gonsalves] did it, am I correct? How come Louis Straker is not telling the people or showing the people the documents that he got from the United States of America to show us that he is not a citizen anymore in America?”

Camillo, the first son of the Prime Minister, was born in the United States, but several months prior to the December 2015 general elections, he renounced his US citizenship. Straker, who returned to SVG in the early 1990s after living there for decades, was first elected to office in 1994.

Wood, who said that she was “going with speed,” proceeded to ask another question and made it clear that she had no political affiliation.

“I am here as one, I am representing St Vincent and I have concerns about what is going on in St Vincent and the Grenadines and especially for young women who have been raped over and over again and, Mr Gonsalves, let me tell you this, okay. I don’t care what nobody has to say,” Wood said as she was interrupted by loud jeers and boos from the audience at the packed hall.

“Let the lady ask her question,” the Prime Minister said above the din in an effort to quiet the crowd.

“I, personally, I personally, Mr Gonsalves,” continued the woman, as the crowd continued their loud chatter.

“Can I go ahead with …?” she asked, to which the Prime Minister said, “Yes, yes”

“But they are keeping a lot of noise,” Wood said.

“I said, go ahead with your question,” Gonsalves responded.

“Mr Gonsalves I am talking from a personal experience, which… earlier you were talking and you were saying, ‘don’t talk about nothing you don’t know, speak from experience.’” The woman went on to detail that at 15 years old, while a member of a national team, she sought sponsorship with a sponsor sheet at his office. It was then that she alleged inappropriate conduct took place.

The crowd exploded, but the woman continued, shouting above the noise.

The woman alleged that immediately thereafter she ran out of the office and into the arms of a secretary. “Mr Gonsalves, I was 15 years old and it hurts me up to today, like it was yesterday,” she alleged.

At this point the meeting erupted into chaos, with the Prime Minister trying to regain order.

“Miss…. I will simply say that you can make an allegation, but it’s not true,” the Prime Minister said.

Gonsalves then answered Wood’s other question stating, “The second question in relation to Louis Straker, I happen to know that Louis Straker is not a citizen of the United States of America.”

“So why are you not telling the people of St Vincent,” Woods quickly replied while also alleging that she has proof that the Deputy Prime Minister did not denounce his citizenship.

Woods was among a group of about 13 persons who had earlier that evening staged a picket outside the Friends of Crown Heights Centre before the start of the town hall meeting.

At a town hall meeting at the same venue last year, Woods was photographed greeting Gonsalves with a hug.(AS)

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