The Bureau des Enquetes Independantes (BEI) – Quebec’s provincial police watchdog – has quietly charged two police officers with sexual assault following the conclusion of two separate investigations.
The BEI is called to independently investigate all cases of injury or death related to a police intervention.
Following a spate of allegations in 2015 regarding misconduct in Val d’Or, their mandate was extended to include allegations of sexual assault with First Nations or Inuit victims.
This the first time in the BEI’s three-year history that police officers were charged criminally for their actions.
The Bureau was recently subject to intense media scrutiny upon realization that none of the cases investigated since 2016 had resulted in disciplinary action.
Jean-Pierre Larose, chief of the Kativik Regional Police Service (KRPF), confirmed to APTN News that 64-year-old Timothy Sangoya, a highly-decorated KRPF police constable, was suspended with pay following an accusation of sexual misconduct in May.
He allegedly committed several assaults in Tasiujaq – the Inuit village in eastern Nunavik where he is employed – as well as other areas in northern Quebec between 2003 and 2008.
According to local publication Nunatsiaq News, Sangoya joined the police force in 1998 and was recognized as an “inspirational role model” during the 2016 Quebec Aboriginal Chiefs of Police annual meeting.
He is expected to appear in court on Sept. 16.
As reported by APTN last month, the chronically underfunded KRPF signed a $146 million deal with the federal and provincial governments in hopes of improving their policing services, updating facilities and appointing independent community liaisons.
The force has been the subject of several BEI investigations: from July 2016 to the end of 2018, the KRPF killed and seriously injured people at a rate that was 55 times higher than Montreal police.
Unlike interventions resulting in death or injury, the outcome of investigations into alleged sexual assaults are not made public by the BEI, or directly released to the media.
The charges were only subtly reflected through updated statistics on the bureau’s website.
A sexual assault charge was also laid against another police officer in July.
Roger Barnaby, a constable with the Listiguj Police Department in the Gaspé, was arrested last month in relation to a complaint filed in February 2017.
Barnaby has been suspended with pay pending a preliminary hearing at the New Carlisle, QC, courthouse, according to Peter Arsenault, director of Public Security for the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government.
Information about the victims in both cases is protected by a publication ban.
With files from Tom Fennario.