RCMP officers face hearing in Watson Lake

Two RCMP officers, acquitted of a rape in Watson Lake, will face an adjudication board hearing on June 13.

Two RCMP officers, acquitted of a rape in Watson Lake, will face an adjudication board hearing on June 13.

During their trial last year, constables Graham Belak and Shawn McLaughlin admitted to taking an intoxicated woman to Belak’s home in Watson Lake and engaging in, what they believed to be, a consensual threesome.

McLaughlin had one child and his wife was pregnant at the time.

That was in March 2009.

Both constables were suspended with pay.

In January of this year, “they were reassigned to duty,” said RCMP Sgt. Don Rogers.

He was not sure if the officers were back on the street, or pushing paper at desk jobs.

“But they are not in the Yukon,” he said.

The adjudication board hearing is scheduled for one week, is open to the public and will take place in Watson Lake.

All three adjudication board members are RCMP officers, said Rogers.

“They will decide whatever sanctions – if any – (Belak and McLaughlin) will face,” he said.

The officers should not be back at work, said Yukon Status of Women member Lois Moorcroft.

“And they should definitely not be on duty on the street, or investigating any sex assaults.”

During the Yukon police review last year, Moorcroft interviewed women from across the territory and summed up their concerns in a 37-page report titled, If My Life Depended on It.

“Women in Watson Lake told me they are scared to go to the RCMP,” said Moorcroft.

“And that fear goes back 100 years.”

Police should be protecting women’s human rights, she said.

“They should not be engaging in sex with a woman they took home from a party – a woman who consumed large amounts of alcohol.

“That is bad behaviour, to understate the case.”

The Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society and the status of women wanted to make a submission to the adjudication board during the Watson Lake hearing.

“But we were denied standing,” said Moorcroft.

“To have standing there must be real reasons,” said Rogers.

“The adjudication board will hear from witnesses,” he added.

Rogers won’t attend the hearing.

“I have no interest in it whatsoever,” he said.

It doesn’t make sense that the officers are back at work, said Moorcroft.

“I just don’t get that at all.

“And now I’ve heard the RCMP is working on another resolution.”

The RCMP “could come to a resolution outside the adjudication board hearing,” said Rogers.

“And that could very well end it.

“But at this point there is no reason to believe it won’t proceed.”

It is hard to believe that these members may not face any consequences, said Moorcroft.

“It goes to the heart of the institution – who was supervising these members, and why in any way would they think this behaviour is acceptable?”

The RCMP need to be held to a high standard, she said.

“And this kind of thing just erodes the whole public trust in the RCMP.

“Those officers should be forced to resign.”

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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