A young rising star of Czech politics who made history by becoming the first ever Black member of the Chamber of Deputies has now been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior by several women, resulting in his resignation.
The 24-year-old Dominik Feri, who represented the left-wing TOP 09 party, has been the subject of rumors for years but a joint article by Deník N and A2larm provided additional evidence and weight to the allegations of sexual assault.
In the past couple of days, Czechs have been closely following the fallout from the case.
Feri has decided to resign over accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior towards several women. He will also not participate in the October parliamentary elections, in which he was to run in fourth place in the Prague constituency for the Spolu (Together) coalition (ODS, TOP 09, KDU-ČSL). He plans to defend himself against the accusations in court.
"I have always wished for a different politics based on personal responsibility. Now, I want to lead by example. I resign as a Member of Parliament, and I will not run in the autumn elections. I do not want false and manipulative articles in the media to harm people close to me or my colleagues. It was an extraordinary honor for me to serve as your Member of Parliament," stated Feri.
Deník N, together with the A2larm news portal, published testimonies of several women, some of whom claim that Feri had sex with them even though they explicitly refused. Others confessed that he asked them to send him nude photos or said that he publicly humiliated them. In an earlier reaction, the politician denied that he had committed sexual violence but apologized for "inappropriate" behavior in some situations.
The TOP 09 chairwoman, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, stated on Twitter that she considers Feri to be her friend and believes that he will clear his name.
"However, the presumption of guilt applies to politicians, and I personally have always called for it. I would therefore like to thank him for his decision to resign as a Member of Parliament and not to run in the forthcoming elections," the chairwoman wrote.
The decision of Feri to resign was praised by other representatives of the Spolu coalition as well. On the contrary, ministers of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) Jana Maláčová and Jakub Kulhánek spoke strongly about Feri's case. According to Maláčová, the revelations fit into pattern of how politicians from TOP 09 act, i.e., saying nice things but doing something else. Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek stated that as the father of a little girl, he hopes that when she grows up, she will never meet anyone like Feri at a party.
No one has been charged in the case yet, and neither has the legal qualification been established, the police informed. Authorities added that they investigate all the circumstances important for deciding whether a crime had been committed.
TOP 09 labels itself a liberal-conservative party. At present, however, the liberal wing predominates. An important characteristic of the party is the pro-European approach. Feri, 24, has been the star of the party popular among young voters. He has more than a million followers on Instagram, where he gained popularity by translating government directives into simple rules.