Charges withdrawn against Ottawa cop accused of sexual assault
UPDATE: On March 10, the Ottawa Police Service said it will review what happened in court and commence an internal review — which is standard after a criminal court proceeding. Const. Kevin Benloss remains suspended with pay while the internal review is underway.
The criminal charges against an Ottawa police constable accused of sexually assaulting a former girlfriend have been withdrawn, according to the officer's lawyer.
In the spring of 2022, Ottawa police charged Const. Kevin Benloss with sexual assault, assault, voyeurism and criminal harassment.
The force chose not to name him "in order to protect the victim's privacy," it said at the time. The complainant was a former girlfriend who reported the allegations to police earlier that year.
Police alleged Benloss sexually assaulted the former girlfriend in 2014, assaulted her in February of 2022, filmed her without her consent and criminally harassed her over a period of about eight years.
In an emailed statement to CBC, Benloss's defence lawyer wrote that his client is grateful the charges were withdrawn by the Crown in an Ontario Court of Justice courtroom in Ottawa on Monday.
Peter Thorning described the charges as "unwarranted from their inception," and wrote there was "no basis in fact or law" to lay them.
"Despite the significant difficulties he has faced as a result of these charges, Const. Benloss remains determined to repair the damages to his professional and personal reputation," Thorning added.
Acquitted in internal hearing almost 4 months ago
The withdrawal of criminal charges comes nearly four months after Benloss was acquitted in a separate internal misconduct investigation in November last year. The police force had been seeking his dismissal.
In November 2020, Ottawa police alleged Benloss acted in a manner likely to bring discredit on, or harm the reputation of, the service when on March 13, 2011, he "engaged in communication and/or physical and/or sexual contact towards a sworn member … that you ought to have known was unwelcome, unwanted, offensive, intimidating, hostile or inappropriate."
He was also charged with one count of insubordination for allegedly breaching the force's respectful workplace policy, which governs how employees must treat each other.
The disciplinary tribunal heard from police and civilian witnesses, including the complainant.
The hearing was marked by tense exchanges between police prosecutors and Benloss's defence lawyer, outbursts by the complainant and distractions introduced by observers — some of whom supported Benloss and some of whom supported the complainant.
In her testimony, the complainant alleged Benloss sexually assaulted her at his house when she was a rookie after a night out drinking with other police officers.
Thorning had argued the sexual encounter was consensual and the complainant created a narrative of sexual assault after the fact.
Benloss was originally suspended with pay in September 2020. The force did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his current employment status on Monday.
Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.