WINNIPEG — She walked into a police station in December 2006 to reveal a dark secret from the past: Her relative, a retired RCMP officer, had allegedly abused her when she was a child.
Now seven years later, Manitoba RCMP have finally concluded their investigation and laid charges against the 76-year-old accused.
The elderly man — who can’t be named to protect the identity of the complainant — was arrested this week at his home in Nova Scotia. He is being brought back to Manitoba on charges of gross indecency and indecent assault.
He will be remanded in custody without bail and is expected to make his first court appearance early next week.
RCMP say the alleged incidents occurred in Manitoba between 1976 and 1981, when the victim was between the ages of nine and 14.
The accused, who retired from the RCMP more than 20 years ago, was not on duty at the time.
His specific relationship with the woman is not being released, nor is the specific community where the incidents occurred.
Typically, historical sex abuse investigations like this are “statement” cases that contain little, if any, physical evidence of a crime. RCMP Sgt. Rob Lockhart admitted Friday that seven years is a long time between complaint and arrest.
Lockhart would only say this particular case was “complex” and required plenty of time to investigate, which include consultation with the Crown’s office.
“It does have some complexities to it,” Lockhart said without offering details. He wouldn’t say if there were other elements to this case, such as DNA analysis, which may have slowed the investigation.
Several legal sources said Friday it’s the longest delay they’ve heard of, and it could eventually hinder the Crown’s case.
“That kind of delay is going to present problems,” said a source, noting a defence lawyer will likely spend plenty of time grilling investigators about the time which elapsed.
Lockhart was asked whether there is concern waiting seven years to lay charges may send a poor message to other potential abuse victims who are thinking of coming forward.
“People may look at this time frame and say ‘geez, it’s seven years.’ But it’s important for people to realize that we were still in touch with the victim here and kept them up to date,” Lockhart said.
» Winnipeg Free Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 7, 2013