The trial of a Labour Party mayor accused of sexually assaulting a young teenage girl over a period of two years entered its final week on Monday, with prosecutors expected to demand that Mayor Rune Øygard of Vågå be found guilty and sentenced to prison. He remains on leave from his mayor’s post at full pay.
Øygard was first charged with repeated assaults on the girl last fall and indicted earlier this year. He has steadfastly denied the assaults, even though he has admitted to sexually charged conversation with her that he himself characterized as “talking dirty.” He also confirmed that he and girl shared a bed when she traveled with him on official business, but both he and his wife said it was because the girl was insecure. Øygard’s wife has said she trusted her husband and the girl.
Øygard’s defense attorney Mette Yvonne Larsen has said that her job is to show that there’s enough doubt in the charges against her client that the judges in the case can’t be convinced of his guilt.
Øygard has been a highly popular and respected mayor of the mountain community of Vågå since 1995, and has had close ties with the highest levels of the Labour Party. Many witnesses have testified on his behalf.
The girl, now age 17, has testified that she and Øygard had sex at least 50 times from the time she was 14. Evidence of text messages and Skype conversations between the two reinforce her testimony concerning their relationship.
Regardless of the outcome of the trial, officials of the Labour Party including Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg have urged Øygard to resign on the grounds he has shown poor judgment and lost confidence of party fellows.