House arrest ordered for EPS officer convicted of sexual assault

Samuel Sanson, 39, has been convicted on one count of sexual assault. (Samuel Sanson/Instagram - image credit)
Samuel Sanson, 39, has been convicted on one count of sexual assault. (Samuel Sanson/Instagram - image credit)

An Edmonton police officer who sexually assaulted a fellow officer was sentenced to four months of house arrest on Friday.

EPS Const. Samuel Sanson will also serve 18 months of probation, Justice Robert Shaigec ruled in an Edmonton Court of Justice courtroom on Friday.

"When a police officer commits a crime, they breach the public's trust," the judge said.

Sanson was convicted of sexually assaulting a fellow officer last year, when Shaigec found that he had groped the woman in the gym at EPS headquarters.

The victim's identity is protected by a court-ordered publication ban.

The Crown prosecutor in the case argued Sanson should serve 30 to 90 days in jail, but Shaigec said he disagreed, calling jail "a last resort."

He said he did not believe the officer would endanger the public while serving a sentence in the community.

But the judge also rejected Sanson's defence lawyer's argument for a conditional discharge and probation, which would have allowed him to avoid having a criminal record.

"A conditional discharge would be manifestly contrary to the public interest," the judge said.

Shaigec said Friday that there were several aggravating factors that contributed to his decision on sentencing, including that the crime occurred in his and the victim's workplace, that his actions before the assault were persistent and aggressive, and that he frightened the victim who left one area of the gym only to have him follow her elsewhere.

He also noted that Sanson had acted as an informal mentor to the younger officer at one point, and said the crime had had a "profound" impact on the victim.

At a hearing for sentencing arguments earlier this year, the victim delivered a victim impact statement, sharing that the assault had upended her life and career, and that she had little support from EPS until after Sanson was found guilty.

Shaigec said he also weighed the expectation that police officers are sworn to uphold the law, and cited case law that found police officers should be held to a higher standard and should get harsher sentences than a normal person who commits a crime.

Shaigec did find that Sanson's mental illness contributed to the offence, and said that was a mitigating factor in his sentencing decision.

He noted that Sanson has already sought out mental health treatment, and said he gave considerable weight to letters filed with the court by medical practitioners who have been treating Sason.

Court heard that Sanson has PTSD as a result of his work as a police officer, and that he was on leave because of it but was still allowed to work out at the EPS gym at the time of the offence.

While on house arrest and probation, Sanson will be required to follow a number of conditions. Shaigec also ordered him to submit a DNA sample to a national database, and to be registered as a sex offender for 10 years.

On Friday, an EPS spokesperson said Sanson is still employed with the service, but that he has been relieved without pay. Now that the court process is complete, EPS's professional standards branch will launch an internal investigation.