Edmundston, N.B., forced to reinstate police officer convicted of sex assault
EDMUNDSTON, New Brunswick — The New Brunswick Police Commission has ordered the Edmundston Police Force to reinstate an officer who was found guilty of sexual assault two years ago.
Marc Michaud, the city’s chief administrative officer, said on Monday that Marc Bouchard will likely be reinstated to his job “gradually” over the next few weeks.
“We acknowledge that this is an uncomfortable situation, but our hands are tied,” Michaud said Monday. “We know that some people may be uneasy about this. Bouchard won’t be allowed into any investigations involving violence against women or cases of sexual assault.”
Bouchard was found guilty of sexual assault in May 2017, according to Michaud.
The administrative officer did not offer any details about the case, but an article published April 19, 2017, in infoweekend.ca indicates that Bouchard did not dispute getting very drunk during a night out in November 2015 and touching the right butt cheek of a woman when he left the place. The woman filed a complaint.
His defense attorney Jocelyne Moreau Bérubé told the court that the gesture lasted two or three seconds and she argued that while it may have been improper it should not be considered sexual assault. She added that alcohol played a major role.
The prosecutor Pierre Gionet argued, however, that the aggression lasted only a few seconds because the victim immediately pulled away. He said it was unfortunate that as a police officer, Bouchard did not recognize the gravity of what he did.
Provincial court Judge Jacques Desjardins conditionally discharged Bouchard and ordered he serve five months probation.
“When a police officer is found guilty of an indictable offense, regardless of the sentence, the employer must go to the N.B. Police Commission,” Michaud said Monday.
Since all the conditions of his sentence have been met, however, Bouchard, under Canadian law, does not have a criminal record, Michaud said. The commission in turn ordered the Edmundston Police Force to reinstate the officer.
“We fully understand the complexity of this situation and acknowledge the sensitivity involved in an issue of this type,” Michaud said.
The police administration is putting together a plan for the “progressive reintegration” of Bouchard, he said.
Bouchard’s attorney, Jocelyne Moreau Bérubé, could not immediately be reached for comment.