#MeToo Hits Top UN Official — Alleged Victim Describes Elevator Assault

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
Font Size:

UNAIDS policy adviser Martina Brostrom has accused Dr. Luiz Loures, a UN assistant secretary general, of sexual assault. The assault allegedly took place in an elevator at a 2015 conference in Bangkok, Thailand.

Brostrom told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that she had been warned previously about Dr. Loures. In addition, she described her own experience with him prior to the assault as being somewhat uncomfortable. “He would let his hand slide, you know, over your hair and sort of hold you behind the neck.”

But at the Bangkok conference, Brostrom explained, she stepped into an elevator with Loures and he attacked. “I’m pushed towards the wall. He starts shoving his tongue into my mouth, trying to kiss me. And he is groping my body, including my breasts. The elevator door opens and he tries to forcefully pull me out of the elevator — drag me towards the corridor of his room. He says, ‘Come, come in my room.'”

“I was pleading with him, and I was just bracing with all that I could just to not leave the elevator,” Brostrom said, noting that she was able to get away from him and back into the elevator alone.

For a year and a half, she chose not to make a formal complaint out of fear of retaliation. She says she did disclose to the head of UNAIDS, Michael Sidibe, several months before making her formal complaint. Several others claimed to have warned Sidibe about Loures and his behavior. When Brostrom did come forward, the resulting investigation determined that her claim was unsubstantiated — and Sidibe denied ever being warned about Loures.

Two other women have since come forward alleging similar assaults. Malayah Harper described a 2014 assault to CNN, and the details were almost exactly the same. “He got into the lift with me, and then kind of lunged forward to — you could call it — kiss me, but I thought a kiss had to be consensual.”

A third woman described a similar assault, but Loures has denied everything. Throughout the investigation, he told investigators that Brostrom might have been drunk and alleged that she flaunted her sexual preferences in conversation with him (Brostrom denies ever speaking to Loures about sex). After a nearly 14 month investigation, in spite of the fact that he was cleared of any wrongdoing, Loures has announced that he intends to leave the UN when his contract runs out this week.

Brostrom also alleged that, after she came forward, she was pressured to take a promotion in exchange for an apology from Loures. During the investigation, Sidibe also denied ever making that offer.