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Former U.K. Lawmaker Jailed for 2 Years in Sexual Assaults


LONDON — A former British lawmaker was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday, after a court found him guilty of three counts of sexual assault against two women whom he had employed.

The lawmaker, Charles Elphicke, a Conservative Party member who represented the Kent constituency of Dover, in southeastern England, for nearly a decade, was found guilty in July of sexually assaulting a parliamentary aide and a nanny who lived at his family home in central London.

Both women stopped working for Mr. Elphicke after the assaults, and told the court that the episodes had left them terrified and depressed.

On Tuesday, Judge Philippa Whipple of the High Court said Mr. Elphicke had used his position of power to try to coerce the women into sexual encounters.

“You are a sexual predator who used your success and respectability as a cover,” Judge Whipple said in sentencing remarks. “In each case you took advantage of your position as their employer and abused their trust in you to impose on them sexually.”

Ms. Whipple said Mr. Elphicke would serve up to one year in prison and would then be eligible for parole.

His case was the latest in a string of complaints about sexual harassment and abuse in the British Parliament.

After a number of lawmakers were accused of sexual harassment in 2017, a new system was set up in Parliament for staff members to report inappropriate behavior. Before that, complaints were taken to the party whips.

An independent report commissioned by Parliament and published last year that was written by Gemma White, a lawyer, described instances of physical abuse, with “breasts being grabbed, buttocks being slapped, thighs being stroked and crotches being pressed/rubbed against bodies.”

Many aides, the report said, spiraled into “significant mental and/or physical illness.”

Mr. Elphicke, 49, was suspended from the Conservative Party in 2017 when allegations of abuse were first reported to the police. He was reinstated in 2018, but suspended again last year when the Crown Prosecution Service charged him.

Mr. Elphicke’s wife, Natalie Elphicke, was elected to fill her husband’s seat in an election held in December. She announced after her husband was found guilty in July that the couple would be divorcing.

Mr. Elphicke has denied the charges and his representatives said he would appeal the verdict.

The women, whose identities were not made public because they were victims of sex crimes, both offered testimony during the trial.

The nanny, then in her 30s, told the court that she was working in the family’s home in 2007 when she found herself alone with Mr. Elphicke.

Mr. Elphicke offered her a drink and tried to kiss her, before he groped her breast, she testified. When she escaped to her room in the basement, Mr. Elphicke ran after her, slapped her bottom and chanted “I’m a naughty Tory,” using the colloquial name for the Conservative Party in England.

She quickly quit her job, and was left without a home.

Judge Whipple said the episode left the woman horrified and terrified.

The woman agreed not to tell Mr. Elphicke’s wife and did not report the assault to the police until November 2017, when she heard his name on the radio after a second woman filed a complaint against him.

That woman was 23 years old when she started working for Mr. Elphicke as a parliamentary aide. She told the court that in April of 2016, Mr. Elphicke tried to forcibly kiss her and groped her breast after offering her a drink in his office.

Days later, as Mr. Elphicke was driving and she sat next to him in the car, he forced his hand between her inner thighs and asked her to start a sexual relationship with him. After she refused, Mr. Elphicke started to bully her, Judge Whipple said.

Addressing Mr. Elphicke directly, Judge Whipple said both women told similar stories of shocking and brazen behavior.

“You got them alone with you, lured them into a false sense of security with wine and work chat, and then attacked them without warning, trying to kiss them, grabbing their breasts, trapping them beneath you,” she said.

“They told the truth,” Judge Whipple said about the women. “You told a pack of lies, not just to the jury, but as became clear, to your wife, the whips and the police as well.”

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