October 5, 2022
Former British Lawmaker Sentenced to 18 Months for Sexual Assault

A former British lawmaker was sentenced on Monday to 18 months in prison for sexually assaulting a teenager, one of several cases of sexual misconduct involving members of Parliament that have reignited calls for change in the historically male-dominated halls of Westminster.

The former Conservative lawmaker, Imran Ahmad Khan, was found guilty last month of trying to force the 15-year-old boy to drink alcohol before sexually assaulting him at a house in 2008, when Mr. Khan was 34, prosecutors said.

The teenager immediately told his parents about the assault, and the police were notified, but the teenager decided not to proceed with the case, prosecutors said.

Years later, when the accuser saw that Mr. Khan had been elected as a member of Parliament in 2019, he decided to pursue the complaint out of concern that Mr. Khan was not fit to serve in public office, prosecutors said.

“As is the case with many victims of sexual assault, out of a sense of embarrassment, the victim was not initially able to disclose all the details of what had happened,” Rosemary Ainslie, head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s Special Crime Division, said in a statement last month.

“In subsequent interviews with the police he was able to tell investigators more about what had taken place,” Ms. Ainslie said, adding, “It took considerable courage for the victim to come forward in 2008 and again in 2019.”

Mr. Khan had denied the allegations, calling them “shocking, destabilizing and traumatic.” He resigned after his conviction, saying that he planned an appeal, but the length of the legal process ahead made it “intolerable” for his constituents not to have a voice in Parliament.

Mr. Khan’s case was one of several that had recently underscored what some see as a longstanding problem of sexual misconduct and misogyny among members of Parliament.

Neil Parish, a Conservative lawmaker, resigned less than a month ago after admitting to watching pornography twice while seated among his colleagues on the green leather benches of the House of Commons.

Last month, The Sunday Times reported that sexual misconduct claims against some 56 lawmakers, including three cabinet ministers and two shadow cabinet ministers, had been referred to an independent watchdog since its creation in 2018.

That agency, the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, was created after a 2018 parliamentary report found that nearly one in five people working in Parliament had been sexually harassed or witnessed sexually inappropriate behavior in the previous year.

Such reports have prompted fresh calls to elect more women to office and to create broader cultural changes in an institution that some have likened to an unruly boys’ club.

Women comprised 35 percent of the members elected to the House of Commons — compared with 28 percent of the U.S. House — a record high, according to a recent report from that body. But before the last general election in 2019, several female members of Parliament said they had decided not to seek re-election because of misogynistic abuse and threats.

Megan Specia contributed reporting.

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