BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Qaloush resignation reignites sexual assault allegations

Former North Lebanon Governor Nassif Qaloush. (The Daily Star/Stringer)

BEIRUT: Former Beirut Governor Nassif Qaloush can now be prosecuted for allegedly sexually harassing a former employee who filed a suit against him after the Cabinet accepted his resignation Friday.

“Now that he resigned and they accepted his resignation, I can now be sure that he will be punished for his actions ... because he no longer has immunity as a grade one [public] employee,” Hoda Sankari, who filed the suit, told The Daily Star.

Last month, Sankari released a covertly filmed video appearing to show Qaloush making inappropriate overtures. In the 10-minute video, she speaks to the camera and accuses Qaloush of sexually harassing her before airing recordings of a conversation that allegedly took place between them over his failure to renew her employment contract as a laboratory technician.

The video has stirred nationwide controversy, with some political and civil society figures defending Qaloush and describing the allegations as part of a “smear campaign.”

During a government session at Baabda Palace, ministers approved the resignation of Qaloush, who was also the governor of the north.

The Cabinet appointed Ziad Shbib and Ramzi Nahra governors of Beirut and the north, respectively.

Sankari said she was suing Qaloush for sexual harassment and blackmail. Qaloush has filed a countersuit against her, claiming she fabricated allegations against him.

“If I was not 90 percent certain I would win and that I am right, I would have never involved myself in this,” Sankari confidently said.

The 33-year-old also commended Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk for fulfilling his promise, saying the minister was very firm and vowed “not to let such a matter go without punishment.”

Qaloush told a local media outlet that he submitted his resignation five months ago but did not announce it publicly, denying that the allegations had anything to do with his move.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 03, 2014, on page 2.

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