EDMONTON — An Alberta Mountie has been charged with sexual assault and other offences following an investigation by the province's police watchdog.
Susan Hughson, with the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, said the allegations involve three women in separate incidents.
Hughson said the Mountie was on duty in two of the alleged cases, including one at the Red Deer RCMP detachment last year. One of the sexual assault charges allegedly happened in rural Alberta in 2012.
Const. Jason Tress, 30, faces two counts of sexual assault involving two women and two counts of breach of trust, including one involving a third woman.
"Sexual assaults are difficult enough for people who have been sexually assaulted, it would seem reasonable that it's only more difficult for those women or children or victims when the perpetrator is a police officer," she said Thursday.
"When these incidents take place during the execution of the duties that makes it extremely serious."
Hughson refused to give any information about the complainants but praised them for coming forward.
"In particular, the first young lady to come forward in the first place, it took great courage for her to step forward and tell investigators what happened."
RCMP Chief Supt. George Stephenson said Tress, an eight-year veteran of the force, was suspended with pay last August, a month after the investigation began.
"These charges are very serious," he said. "The fact that he is suspended acknowledges the RCMP's concern about the serious nature of these offences that he is now facing."
Stephenson declined to provide details of Tress's RCMP background or the allegations, including whether they involved women who were being held in custody.
He suggested the charges won't reflect badly on the RCMP.
"It is not a reflection on the 3,200 officers that serve in Alberta," he said. "We are faced with a situation of an individual who is facing criminal charges as a result of ASIRT's investigation."
Hughson said the first woman who came forward filed a complaint with the RCMP. The Mounties then referred the complaint to Alberta's Justice department, which ordered ASIRT to investigate.
She said during the investigation ASIRT became aware of the other allegations involving two other women.
Tress is to appear in Red Deer provincial court on April 12.
The Canadian Press