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Spiess-Hegglin quits party over sex scandal

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Spiess-Hegglin quits party over sex scandal
Jolanda Spiess-Hegglin will continue as an independent. Photo: Alternative Green Party
10:20 CET+01:00
A politician in the canton of Zug has quit her party a year after a scandal in which she claimed to have been sexually abused by a fellow MP.

Jolanda Spiess-Hegglin, who was co-president of the Alternative Green party, intends to continue to sit in the Zug parliament as an independent.

In a statement released to the media on Thursday night, Spiess-Hegglin said “To be confronted with what's happened to me has also been hard on my colleagues”.

Saying the situation has “taken a lot of energy,” she said she wished to lift the burden from her party, but would continue in politics as an independent.

Spiess-Hegglin hit the news last December. Following a party on December 20th to celebrate the election of Heinz Tännler to the Zug government, she claimed to have had no memory of the end of the evening and, feeling some pain in her abdomen, took herself to hospital for tests.

The hospital alerted the public prosecutor, who subsequently investigated Markus Hürlimann, then president of the Zug cantonal branch of the Swiss People's Party (SVP), over allegations he sexually abused Spiess-Hegglin using a date rape drug at the party.

Though DNA samples confirmed that the two had had sexual contact – a fact which married Hürlimann admitted – no evidence was found that Spiess-Hegglin was incapacitated at the time, and the case was subsequently dropped.

In September several parties in the canton wrote an open letter demanding that both Spiess-Hegglin and Hürlimann quit the Zug cantonal parliament.

Rejecting the request in her statement, Spiess-Hegglin said she wished to engage even more with politics, particularly in the domain of family affairs, sexual equality and women's rights.

The experiences “of sexism and hostility towards women” that she had felt during the past 11 months had “opened my eyes and shown me that we are, in part, stuck in the Middle Ages”.

Hürlimann stepped down from the presidency of the cantonal branch of the SVP after the scandal, saying he could no longer provide the “necessary role model” of party leader, the Neue Zuger Zeitung newspaper reported at the time.

In April he filed a complaint against Spiess-Hegglin for slander and defamation.

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