Watson Lake hearing to proceed

Watson Lake hearing to proceed An adjudication board hearing for two former Watson Lake officers acquitted of sexual assault will proceed, according to brass at RCMP HQ. A former nurse in the town accused officers of raping her in March 2009.

An adjudication board hearing for two former Watson Lake officers acquitted of sexual assault will proceed, according to brass at RCMP HQ.

A former nurse in the town accused officers of raping her in March 2009.

During the trial in March 2010, officers Graham Belak and Shawn McLaughlin gave detailed testimony about the threesome, which was consented to and provoked by the woman, they said. Her name is protected by a publication ban.

The woman testified she’d consumed several alcoholic drinks, smoked marijuana and was confident she had been drugged, she said.

She reported the alleged assault 30 hours later, after she awoke. Drugs in urine and blood tests must be detected after 24 hours.

Both officers were acquitted for the sexual assault charges by Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower last year on the grounds the woman’s evidence was unreliable.

Women’s organizations in the territory have noted, as officers of the law, both Belak and McLaughlin should know when someone is too impaired to make sound-decisions, like conscious consent, in the same way they are trained to tell if someone is too drunk to drive.

This skill was confirmed in a 2009 territorial court case Belak was involved in, noted Barbara McInerney, of Kaushee’s Place.

In this case, Guillermo Jesus Bonilla was charged with impaired driving by Belak. It was the officer’s fourth or fifth impaired driving investigation in just over a year on the force, noted judge Michael Cozens in his decision.

During the trial, Belak’s use of the breathalyzer was questioned. But Cozens decided Belak’s judgement of Bonilla’s state prior to the test – red, glossy eyes and the smell of alcohol on his breath – was reasonable and probable.

Though acquitted of sexual assault, RCMP officials vowed an internal hearing into the officers’ actions.

Last month, it was set for June 13 to 17 in Watson Lake. The woman, who is now living Outside, received an email from the RCMP requesting contact information for a summons.

“Further inquiry resulted in me being notified by phone that, unless I was willing to testify, there would be no hearing,” she said in a written statement dated Thursday. “I informed them by email I was not willing to testify. The RCMP did state they would assist me with travel expenses. But the financial and emotional costs of going to this hearing are not worth the devastation of seeing these two men receive a pat on the back from their coworkers.”

There is nothing in the RCMP Act that suggests an adjudication board hearing cannot proceed without a complainant’s testimony.

“It’s up to this appropriate officer or representative to decide,” said Sgt. Julie Gagnon, from RCMP headquarters in Ottawa. “It’s on a case-to-case basis.”

It is written in the act that the RCMP member, who’s conduct is being reviewed at the hearing, has the option to provide their written testimony under oath, rather than appearing in person.

This too is determined case-to case, said Gagnon.

Gagnon was told the hearing will happen on June 13, but doesn’t know whether the woman will have to attend, she said.

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