An RCMP officer of 23 years has been found guilty in Fredericton of sexually assaulting a co-worker.
Sgt. Youssef Michael Hanna has been suspended with pay since February after the victim filed a criminal complaint with the Fredericton Police Force.
On Monday, Judge Jacques DesJardins found Hanna guilty of touching the victim's vagina over her pants and kissing her breasts without her consent at her apartment after a staff Christmas party last December.
DesJardins imposed a publication ban on the identity of the victim.
Hanna is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on March 26, 2021. He's also facing an RCMP Code of Conduct investigation separate from the criminal investigation. RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Jean-Francois Martel said Hanna will remain suspended with pay until the criminal matter is fully concluded.
"RCMP members are expected to hold themselves to a high moral and professional standard," Martel said. "Any allegation that a member has not done so is troubling and is taken very seriously."
In his decision, DesJardins explained the facts as they were presented in a trial earlier this year. He said the Crown presented an interrogation video of Hanna, security camera videos from the victim's apartment complex, and the victim herself testified.
The defence did not call any witnesses.
In the interrogation video, Hanna denied touching the victim's vagina and breasts but said they had a consensual kiss.
"I didn't do any of that, I would not do that," Hanna said in the interrogation video.
DesJardins said Hanna and the victim had an amicable relationship inside and outside of the office. The victim testified the people who work at the RCMP often have a "dark sense of humour" and make "off-colour jokes" to process what they see in their line of work. The victim testified Hanna would make some sexual remarks that would make her uncomfortable.
On the night of Dec. 20, the group was drinking at the Snooty Fox from 1 p.m. to around 11:30 p.m. The victim testified she and Hanna were playing the rock-paper-scissors game, with whoever losing having to take a shot.
By the end of the night, the only people remaining were the victin, Hanna and another person. They called another co-worker to give them a drive home. In the car, the victim said Hanna "insisted" that he walk her up to her apartment. DesJardins said the victim said no at first but Hanna continued to insist.
In his interrogation video, Hanna told the investigator he wanted to walk her up to her apartment because she'd gotten complaints from her downstairs neighbours about noise.
"Being the person I am, thought I'd do a good thing, took her upstairs to make sure she got into her apartment, she invited me in," Hanna told the investigator.
The video shows Hanna had the keys to her apartment and unlocked the door and walked in first.
"Either he planned on going up to have an opportunity … to go beyond just talk, or on impulse at the moment, in a split second, he acted on desire to kiss her," the judge said.
There is is no doubt on my mind that she was not mistaken in remembering those three incidents - Judge Jacques DesJardins.
Neither the victim nor Hanna accurately remembered who had the keys to the victim's apartment. The victim thought she did, but surveillance videos show Hanna was the one who had the keys and unlocked the door. DesJardins noted in his judgment that they were both drunk and their memory was affected.
"Let's not forget these are collateral issues," DesJardins said. "She was impaired."
In his interrogation, Hanna said the victim was the one to initiate contact. He said she leaned on him to take off her shoes then kissed him.
The victim said she leaned on him to take off her shoes, then Hanna grabbed the back of her head and forced a kiss. He then touched her vagina and asked her how aroused she was. She told him she had a sex toy and "could take care of herself." He then moved her shirt and kissed her breasts and "she said no." That's when he left.
DesJardins said the victim's memory is clear when it comes to the assault itself and he trusts her recollection.
"There is is no doubt on my mind that she was not mistaken in remembering those three incidents," he said.
Surveillance videos show Hanna was in the apartment for two and a half minutes. When he leaves, he's smiling. The video doesn't show the victim except for a hand that shoots out to point at him.
DesJardins said he also doesn't see a motivation for the victim to fabricate the complaint, especially since she was worried about being ostracized at her workplace and being called a liar.
In the video, the interrogator asked Hanna why the victim would say he did those things. Hanna said he doesn't know. DeJardins said the victim answered that question in her testimony.
"It's because it happened," he said.