RCMP officers charged with sexual assault get first day in court

A preliminary hearing for two RCMP officers charged with sexual assault began Tuesday in Whitehorse. Graham Belak, 29, and Shawn McLaughlin, 32, of Watson Lake were charged on March 8 with sexually assaulting a woman and have been suspended with pay.

A preliminary hearing for two RCMP officers charged with sexual assault began Tuesday in Whitehorse.

Graham Belak, 29, and Shawn McLaughlin, 32, of Watson Lake were charged on March 8 with sexually assaulting a woman and have been suspended with pay.

Judge Mike Hubbard heard testimony from key witnesses Tuesday—evidence that cannot be published due to a publication ban.

The preliminary hearing is meant to evaluate whether there is enough evidence to hold a trial against the officers.

Only the prosecution can call witnesses during the hearing, which is likely to last a few more days.

This was Belak’s and McLaughlin’s first physical appearance in court.

McLaughlin spent the hearing typing notes on a laptop.

Belak, who worked in Whitehorse before being sent to the Watson Lake detachment, greeted friends who were there to support the officers during the trial.

The Edmonton Police Force conducted an investigation into the March 8 incident in lieu of the Whitehorse detachment to avoid any conflicts of interest among friendly officers.

The Public Complaints Commission Against the RCMP also provided one investigator after the initial charge was made. (James Munson)