MONTREAL — Two Quebec police officers serving Indigenous territories have been charged with sexual assault following separate investigations by the province's independent police watchdog, the Crown prosecutor's office said Wednesday.
Timothy Sangoya, 62, with the Kativik Regional Police Force, faces one count of sexual assault, allegedly committed in 2003. He appeared in court June 17. Roger Barnaby, with the Listuguj Police Department, also faces one count of sexual assault, allegedly committed in 2017. He has yet to appear before a judge.
The two men are the first police officers charged criminally following investigations by the independent watchdog, called the Bureau des enquetes independantes. Created in 2016, it has initiated 77 criminal investigations of Quebec police officers since it began operating in June 2016. Of those, 40 resulted in no charges and 35 remain open.
Neither the BEI nor the prosecutor's office publicly announced the charges against the two officers. The watchdog simply updated the statistics section of its website to reflect the fact the Crown decided to lay two charges following probes, a fact first reported by CBC.
Peter Arsenault, director of public security with the Listuguj Police Department, said Barnaby was suspended with pay in December when the investigation began. Listuguj is a Mi'kmaq First Nations community located about 750 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
"Mr. Barnaby has been suspended at the onset of the investigation pending criminal charges," Arsenault said in an interview. He said court proceedings are expected to take place this fall but he could not disclose any other information.
A spokesman for the Kativik Regional Police Force would not comment on the case. Kativik is a region located in northern Quebec and is composed of 14 Inuit communities.
The Liberal government created the BEI following years of complaints and pressure from citizens for an independent bureau to investigate instances when someone dies or is seriously injured during an intervention involving a police officer.
The BEI is also mandated to investigate accusations of sexual assault involving police as well as any accusations of criminal conduct against police when the complainant is a member of a First Nations or Inuit community.