A Brandon jail inmate is accused of sexually assaulting another, raising questions surrounding safety at the facility.
"There’s so many places where you can get hurt, where you can be assaulted, where you can be stabbed, you know, beat up… it’s absolutely insane … BCC is not a safe jail at all," said a source familiar with the inner workings of the jail who spoke to the Sun on condition of anonymity.
Brandon Police Service Staff Sgt. Mike Pelechaty said police were notified of the sexual assault complaint on Thursday, and a man was charged by the end of the day.
Pelechaty said the complaint would have to come directly from the alleged victim to proceed with the prosecution, unless the assaults were witnessed and that doesn’t appear to be the case.
It’s not clear whether the accused and complainant were cellmates, but Pelechaty said they were both being held in Unit A of the jail at the time of the alleged assaults.
Otherwise, few details of the allegations are available at this point.
A source said the allegations consist of forced oral sex and anal intercourse. Court documents show that the inmate has been charged with sexual assault, and with anal intercourse under Section 159 of the Criminal Code.
There’s said to have been three assaults, allegedly committed against a 26-year-old man between March 1 and April 9.
The allegations haven’t been proven in court.
A Manitoba Justice spokesperson said Brandon jail officials are working with Brandon police on the investigation and have also launched an internal review.
However, citing the ongoing investigation, the spokesperson said she couldn’t provide further details. She said the jail is providing the alleged victim with appropriate care and support, which she didn’t specify.
A source familiar with the jail said there’s consensual sex among inmates — there are urges, after all. But, an allegation of forced sex at the Brandon jail would be rare.
Not all such allegations of sexual assault would be reported by an inmate victim.
Any inmate who speaks to authorities — even to report that he’d been sexually assaulted — would be viewed as a "rat" or "snitch" and might be beaten by other inmates.
An inmate who makes a complaint would likely be placed in protective custody, or placed in another part of the jail or transferred to another facility.
The source said Unit A is a higher security unit used to house violent inmates. It’s likely that any sexual assault would happen in a cell — where inmates are locked up together overnight — or in a washroom. Cells and washrooms aren’t covered by surveillance cameras, while the common area in the range is.
Corrections staff are supposed to conduct regular walk-throughs, but those walk-throughs have been known to get skipped at night.
The source said that crowding and reduced staffing also leads to a safety concern. The Manitoba Justice spokesperson confirmed that the Brandon jail is overcapacity. As of Thursday, there were 315 inmates, and the jail’s capacity is 252.
The next court date for the 26-year-old accused is April 28.
» Twitter: @IanHitchen
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 12, 2014