RCMP are investigating the death of former city police officer Richard Dow early Tuesday at Headingley Correctional Centre.
Dow, who was serving a 16-month jail term for sexual assault, was found dead in his cell Tuesday morning. An autopsy is scheduled today to pinpoint the cause of death.
"It's very early for us," RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Line Karpish said Tuesday. "Like any death, we treat it as suspicious until we know otherwise."
Karpish said officers from the Headingley detachment were called to the provincial jail about 10:30 a.m. in connection with the death of a male inmate. Winnipeg police are not involved in the investigation.
Police and justice sources confirmed the deceased is Dow.
An unresponsive Dow was found in his cell, where jail staff tried unsuccessfully to revive him.
A jail source said Dow did not die of natural causes. "It was either suicide or homicide."
An inquest, mandatory whenever someone dies in custody, will be called into the death.
Dow, 58, was sentenced in September to 16 months after being convicted of sexually assaulting 11 young women he persuaded to model for his off-duty photography business.
Dow was a Winnipeg police officer for 19 years. He was placed on administrative leave from the police service after his arrest in November 2006, when he was originally charged with assaulting several women and teenage girls.
The offences occurred between 2001 and 2005. Thirteen more women stepped forward in January 2007 to make complaints against him. In total, there were allegedly 17 women and five girls under age 18 who were victimized. Police said the victims ranged in age between 15 and 24.
Dow, a constable, retired in February 2007.
The charges involved taking nude videos of teenage girls and inappropriate touching of the victims while they were in the basement of Dow's Southdale home, where he operated a fashion photography studio. He was accused of groping their breasts, rubbing their bodies with oil and on at least two occasions touching their vaginal area.
He was charged after a year-long investigation that had been triggered by another Winnipeg police officer who had contacted the WPS professional standards unit and claimed the 16-year-old daughter of a friend of his had hired Dow to take her photos.
Police seized thousands of digital images, clothing and computer and camera equipment from Dow's home business, called Ricoco International.
In one case, Dow approached a 19-year-old woman and her mother in a mall. In 2004, he and his daughter approached an 18-year-old at a local restaurant.
He was initially tried in two stages. In April 2012, he stood trial on a charge of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in 2000, allegedly plying her with liquor during a photo shoot in his basement, then having sex with her. Dow claimed the sex was consensual. A jury acquitted him on that charge.
He was to have faced a second trial in May 2012 involving 21 other victims, but before the trial began, he struck a deal with a special Crown prosecutor, pleading guilty to 11 counts of sexual assault for attacks between 2001 and 2005.
In exchange, 13 other charges were stayed, including five counts of sexual exploitation and eight counts of sexual assault.