Watson Lake RCMP hearing in doubt

Yukon women's organizations say the adjudication board hearing for two RCMP officers acquitted of sexual assault last March may not happen. The hearing was announced last month.

Yukon women’s organizations say the adjudication board hearing for two RCMP officers acquitted of sexual assault last March may not happen.

The hearing was announced last month.

A coalition of the Yukon Status of Women Council, Les Essentielles, Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre and Kaushee’s Place is submitting a petition to the RCMP today. More signatures are expected to follow.

The groups want the hearing held, and they want Yukon’s women’s groups to be granted standing. Above all, they want it to proceed without forcing the complainant to testify.

The hearing will decide whether officers Sean McLaughlin and Graham Belak will face sanctions, RCMP told the News in April.

But the hearing will not be held if the woman who accused the officers of sexual assault fails to attend, or refuses to testify and be cross-examined by lawyers in a room full of RCMP officials, said the coalition.

The woman, whose identity is protected, told the organizations this is what the RCMP told her.

“We’re not confirming, either way, whether that’s the case,” said Sgt. Don Rogers of the RCMP. “It’s not appropriate for us to comment on the hearing in any event. To do so risks compromising the hearing and, certainly, making any statements about the case impacts the privacy of the members and any witnesses. This is no different than any judicial hearing.”

“To demand that a victim come back and sit again to go over the same testimony is to deny her any dignity of the first process – and her family and the women of Watson Lake,” said Barbara McInerney of Kaushee’s Place.

“And it’s not her who’s on trial, it’s them,” said Ketsia Houde from Les Essentielles. “Right now, it’s their hearing, not hers. And they already have all the information from the trial, all the transcripts. They have every single detail of what she was wearing, what she was doing.

“They have everything. She doesn’t need to be there.”

The women’s groups’ request to speak at the hearing has been denied.

Anyone else, like community members, who wish to speak at the hearing had the opportunity to apply for that, said Rogers, adding he doesn’t know who has been granted standing.

Denying the community an opportunity to speak about how this has impacted them would be a travesty, said McInerney.

“I want to say a quote from one of the women in the community,” said McInerney. “What she said was: ‘I really acknowledge the courage that this woman’s got because this happened to lots of us in the communities and we need to see some kind of win on this.’”

In January, the officers were reassigned to duty outside of the territory.

“So we’re going to ship them somewhere and pretend the problem goes away,” said McInerney, adding that ultimately, the organizations want to see the two officers dismissed.

“Right now the RCMP, with the police review we just had, they’ve been telling us that they want to improve the situation, they want people to trust the RCMP,” said Houde. “And, by refusing to do this hearing, they’re saying the complete opposite.”

“To suggest that by not saying something either way somehow undermines the good things that we’ve done, I don’t think that’s a fair conclusion for people to draw,” Rogers said. “We have to respect the hearing and we have to respect the rights for the people involved.”

Because violence is a reality, people need a place to go where they know they will be safe and protected – they need to be able to trust the RCMP – especially in the small, remote communities, Houde said.

“The RCMP has a purpose and it’s not serving it right now,” she said. “They are saying that if the RCMP do something bad, they wont be disciplined and it tells people in the community that it’s not safe to go there.”

People can sign the petition by contacting the coalition at vfwc@northwestel.net

The adjudication hearing has been scheduled for June 13 to 17, in Watson Lake.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at


Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history


Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Copies of the revised 2021-22 budget documents tabled in the legislature on May 14. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Liberals introduce new budget with universal dental and safe supply funding

The new items were added to secure the support of the NDP.

Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters on May 13. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Cap on rent increases will take effect May 15

The rollout of the policy is creating ‘chaos,’ says opposition

Yukon News file
A 21-year-old man is in custody after a stabbing in Porter Creek on May 14.
One man in hospital, another in custody, after alleged stabbing in Porter Creek

A police dog was used to track the suspect who was later arrested in a wooded area.

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

A lawsuit has been filed detailing the resignation of a former Yukon government mine engineer. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A year after resigning, former chief mine engineer sues Yukon government

Paul Christman alleges a hostile work environment and circumvention of his authority led him to quit

Former Liberal MLA Pauline Frost speaks to reporters outside the courthouse on April 19. One of the voters accused of casting an invalid vote has been granted intervenor status in the lawsuit Frost filed last month. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Voters named in Pauline Frost election lawsuit ask to join court proceedings

The judge granted Christopher Schafer intervenor status

Most Read