Czech Republic's youngest and first Black MP resigns over sexual abuse allegations

Feri is accused of sexual assault by eight anonymous female students; sources say his behavior has been a "public secret" for quite some time.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 26.05.2021 09:59 (updated on 26.05.2021)

Prague, May 25 (CTK) - Czech MP Dominik Feri (TOP 09) will give up his seat in parliament and not run in the October general election after several women accused him of inappropriate behavior. Feri will defend himself against the accusations of sexual violence, he announced Tuesday.

"I always wished politics to be different, based on personal responsibility. Now I want to set an example. I resign on my deputy’s mandate and will not take part in the autumn elections. I don’t want untrue and manipulative articles in the media to harm either the people close to me or my colleagues. I will defend against them in court," Feri said in a statement sent to CTK.

The Deník N daily and the Alarm server write that a number of women reported that Feri behaved sexually inappropriately toward them between 2015-2020. Eight anonymous female students accused him of sexual assault, others said he made sexually offensive statements in public or requested naked photos.

The stories were published after a tweet by an anonymous Twitter account asking "proč nejsou ty kauzy zneužívání holek Ferim medializovány?" (why aren't the cases of Feri abusing girls being publicized?) sparked a social media debate.

Feri, aged 24, is one of the most high-profile members of the TOP 09 party. He was running in the autumn election for the Together (Spolu) alliance of the Civic Democrats (ODS), Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), and TOP 09 as candidate number four in Prague.

He has been a Member of the Chamber of Deputies since 2017 since being elected at the age of 21, making him the youngest and the first Black member of the Chamber of Deputies in the history of the Czech Republic.

In 2019, he was attacked at a wine-tasting event in Boršice, in the eastern region of Moravia, in what he later described as a racially motivated attack.

The first replacement for Feri is documentary feminist film director Olga Sommerová, 71.

Feri apologized Tuesday for his inappropriate behavior in some situations but said he did not commit any sexual violence.

Feri said he is aware that he personally failed in some situations when he acted inappropriately towards women. "I regret all such failures and I deeply apologize for them," he said, adding that he believes he has changed.

In an effort to verify information from social networking sites, Deník N and Alarm say they talked to several women who faced his unwanted sexual advances. Deník N and Alarm write these women did not know one another and never talked about their experience with Feri together, they are not linked to any political party, and that they chose to come out in reaction to the debate on social websites.

The police said they are dealing with the statements in the article released by Deník N and Alarm.

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Did Dominik Feri make the right decision to resign following accusations of sexual assault?

Yes 89 %
No 11 %
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TOP 09 chairwoman Markéta Pekarová Adamová said on Twitter she believes Feri will clear his name. "However, a presumption of guilt applies to politicians, and I always called for this. And so I want to thank him for the decision to give up the deputy’s mandate and not run in the forthcoming elections," she said.

On the contrary, Labour Minister Jana Maláčová and Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek (both Social Democrats, ČSSD) criticised Feri’s case on social networking sites.

"If the testimonies about MP Feri’s behavior are true, unfortunately, it follows the pattern of the TOP 09 actions," Maláčová tweeted.

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Kulhánek said he hoped when his small daughter grows up, she will not meet anybody like Feri at a party. He said Feri may not have violated law, but he clearly repeatedly treated women badly.

Feri was the face of the Together campaign focusing on young voters. He was popular among the young generation, with over a million followers on his Instagram account "Choco afro". Political analysts told CTK that this generation is much more sensitive to such behavior.

Political analyst Jan Kubáček said the accusations were very serious and if Feri does not refute them, it may be his end in politics. "This is devastating for a representative of liberal city centrist voters, especially if he wants to aim at young voters," Kubáček said.

Political analyst Petr Just said sexual harassment does not kill political preferences in the Czech Republic, unlike in the United States, but it may affect the Together coalition.

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