RCMP officers to stand trial for sexual assault

Watson Lake RCMP officers Graham Belak and Shawn McLaughlin have been ordered to stand trial for sexually assaulting a woman in March.

Watson Lake RCMP officers Graham Belak and Shawn McLaughlin have been ordered to stand trial for sexually assaulting a woman in March.

Judge Mike Hubbard made his decision that there is enough evidence to convict the officers after a preliminary hearing held this week in a Whitehorse court.

Seven witnesses provided testimony at the hearing for Belak, 30, and McLaughlin, 32, who were charged on March 8 for sexually assaulting a woman while off duty. Their testimony cannot be released due to a publication ban.

Belak and McLaughlin have since relocated to Whitehorse and Manitoba respectively. The victim has also left the Yukon.

After the hearing, the officers’ lawyers asked if their clients bail conditions could be amended.

The lawyers asked if the requirement that Belak and McLaughlin abstain from alcohol could be rescinded so that they could have beers after playing hockey.

The Crown lawyer defending the victim disagreed with the request because of the role alcohol played during the March incident.

While Hubbard agreed that all three involved were intoxicated, he loosened the condition to allow the officers a blood alcohol level of no more than 0.08 per cent.

15-year-old girl assaulted downtown

A 15-year-old girl was sexually assaulted while walking in downtown Whitehorse late Tuesday evening.

The girl was able to fight off the attacker, who approached her on Strickland Street between 3rd and 4th avenues around 11:10 p.m.

She suffered only minor injuries and was not hospitalized.

RCMP would not say whether she knew her attacker, but confirmed the incident was not random.

“I can’t really get into a lot of the background of why we don’t think it’s random because that forms part of the investigations,” said RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Don Rogers.

“But the circumstances around it suggest that people should not be worried that someone is going around and committing these things,” said Rogers.

No witnesses have yet come forward and a description of the attacker may be released later today, he said.

Anyone who may have heard or seen the incident is asked to call the RCMP. (James Munson)

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