Austrian politician Peter Pilz resigns over sexual harassment allegations

November 4, 2017 6:09 pm

Austrian politician has quit over allegations of sexual harassment. (File photo)

A seasoned Austrian politician, known for his long anti-establishment campaigns, has resigned from his top post in his party over allegations of sexual harassment.
Peter Pilz, who leads the newly formed anti-establishment Pilz List party, announced his resignation on Saturday, saying he took “extremely serious” allegations of groping a woman four years ago.
The weekly Falter released a report earlier Saturday claiming that Pilz had groped a woman in 2013 at a major annual discussion forum in the western town of Alpbach.
An unidentified young woman told Falter that Pilz, 63, was heavily drunk while harassing her in the forum.
“His hands were everywhere,” she said, adding that Pilz was eventually dragged by two other forum participants.
In a Saturday statement, Pilz said he could not remember the incident, although admitting that the allegations were “serious.”
“I’ve always fought for strict standards and these standards also apply to me,” he said.
Pilz, a former member of the Austrian Greens, the famous party that he co-founded in 1986, faces other allegations of sexual harassment.
Last week, a female Greens member claimed Pilz had caressed her several times when he was still with the party. Pilz has rejected the allegations, saying he would fight them in court.
The seasoned politician formed the Pilz List in July after splitting from the Greens. The new party, which has adopted a harsh anti-establishment tone, is comprised of artists, academics and entrepreneurs. After announcing his resignation, he said he would continue to advise the party, which won four seats in last month’s snap elections.
Allegations of sexual harassment against famous people, including politicians, have become widespread these days. Pilz is the second high-profile political figure in Europe to become involved in such cases. Britain’s former Secretary of Defense Michael Fallon was forced to resign last week after facing similar allegations while there have been increasing reports about the involvement of senior European Parliament staff in similar harassment incidents.
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