Progress politician charged with rape

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A Progress Party politician from Rogaland has been charged with raping a woman in her 20s after a political gathering in Haugesund last weekend. The rape allegedly occurred at a downtown hotel in the West Coast city late Saturday night.

The alleged rape took place here, in the West Coast city of Haugesund, at the Scandic Maritme Hotel. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad reported on the rape Friday and wrote that there were several other political parties represented at the gathering in Haugesund. Bente Thorsen, county leader for the Progress Party’s chapter in Rogaland, confirmed to state broadcaster NRK that she had advised the young woman involved to report the rape to police.

Police for the Sør-Vest police district of Norway told NRK that the rape was reported on Wednesday and the alleged assailant, who has not been publicly identified in line with Norwegian press practice, was arrested in Bergen Friday morning. He has been formally charged and taken by police to Stavanger, where he faced a custody hearing.

“The Rogaland chapter has in cooperation with local party members done what we can to assist those involved,” Thorsen told NRK. “Now it’s important that the police do their job, and we will of course assist the police if that’s needed.”

The man has also been stripped of all the positions he held in the party, and removed from the Rogaland chapter’s list of candidates for elected office, according to news bureau NTB.

“It is terribly unfortunate that this sort of thing could occur at a political event,” Thorsen added. “We strive for a good organization culture and will once again offer counseling to our members about this.”

The Progress Party has been hit by a string of “unwanted incidents” during the past year, with other party politicians variously accused of obscenity, harassment, sexual assault, fraud and, most recently, making threats. There was no immediate comment from party leader Siv Jensen, who serves as Norway’s finance minister.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund