Quarantine officer charged with extortion, sexual assault after demanding cash fine from Ont. resident

·2 min read
Halton Regional Police say the accused, a 27-year-old Hamilton man whose full name is Hemant, went to the Oakville home on Feb. 18 to carry out a quarantine compliance check. There, he allegedly demanded a cash fine and then sexually assaulted a resident when she refused to pay.  (Jeremy Cohn/CBC - image credit)
Halton Regional Police say the accused, a 27-year-old Hamilton man whose full name is Hemant, went to the Oakville home on Feb. 18 to carry out a quarantine compliance check. There, he allegedly demanded a cash fine and then sexually assaulted a resident when she refused to pay. (Jeremy Cohn/CBC - image credit)

A quarantine screening officer employed by a private security company hired and trained by Canada's federal health agency has been charged after allegedly demanding a cash fine from an Ontario resident and then sexually assaulting her when she refused to pay.

Halton Regional Police say the accused, a 27-year-old Hamilton man whose full name is Hemant, went to the Oakville home on Feb. 18 to carry out a quarantine compliance check, telling the resident she was in violation of a quarantine order.

Under Canada's Quarantine Act, designated screening officers regularly visit travellers' quarantine locations to ensure they are complying with the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirements. The officers are not police and cannot issue a ticket or conduct an arrest, nor can they demand payment of any kind.

Police allege the accused demanded the resident pay a fine in cash.

"When the victim declined to pay, she was sexually assaulted by the accused," said a police news release issued Wednesday.

Police also said he worked for one of four private security firms hired to help enforce isolation orders.

The force said it will not identify the name of the security company where the man was an employee, but say he has been suspended.

The accused, who now faces charges of sexual assault and extortion, has been released from custody. He is set to appear in court in Milton, Ont. on March 23.

The investigation was prompted by a complaint from the alleged victim, said police spokesperson Const. Steve Elms, who had no other details.

The Public Health Agency of Canada did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

All people entering Canada are required to isolate for 14 days. Designated screening officers visit quarantine locations to confirm the person is where they said they would be in quarantine when they arrived in the country. Failure to comply can result in fines.

Screening officers, contracted by the Public Health Agency of Canada, are not police officers and have no authority to issue a ticket or arrest anyone.

As a result, police said, screening officers should never be demanding payment of any kind during a quarantine-compliance check.

Police said other people might have been victimized and urged anyone who might have had a similar experience to contact their local police.

Issues have previously arisen with quarantine guards. Last year, private security contractors at a quarantine hotel in Melbourne, Australia, were accused of sleeping with guests, the Herald Sun reported.