Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2 Yukon Mounties charged with sexually assaulting woman

Two RCMP officers based in Watson Lake, Yukon, have been charged with sexual assault following an attack on a woman earlier this week, the police force said Wednesday.

A woman told police she was sexually assaulted by two off-duty officers early Sunday morning in the southern Yukon town of 850, an RCMP spokesman told CBC News on Wednesday.

Both officers were suspended with pay. Police say they will not release the officers' names until they make their first court appearance on April 6.

The RCMP's major crimes unit has led the investigation that resulted in the charges, but Sgt. Mark Groves said Edmonton police are also being brought in to watch over the investigators.

"The RCMP will do everything possible to ensure that the public, everyone in the Yukon, feel they can trust the RCMP as Canada's national police force, and come to us for anything," Groves said.

Also monitoring the investigation is the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, an independent national police watchdog.

It announced earlier Wednesday that it is sending an observer to the Yukon to monitor the investigation and ensure it's conducted in an impartial manner.

"It's obvious people are going to be very concerned," said Kevin Brosseau, the commission's senior director of operations.

"It's a small town … [and] like any other small town, [it's] very concerned about the actions of the police, and to ensure that these very serious allegations are being appropriately investigated."

Brosseau said the commission's observer, a former senior Vancouver police official, will determine the relationship between the RCMP investigators and the two officers who have been charged, making sure there is no conflict of interest.

Brosseau added that the observer will also want make sure the accused officers are being treated the same as any other person would be.

In addition to the major crimes unit investigation, the RCMP is also looking into whether the Watson Lake officers breached the police force's code of conduct.

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