A former Wood Buffalo RCMP Staff Sergeant has been sentenced for assaulting a pair of subordinates.
On Monday, 44-year-old Jason Keays appeared in a Fort McMurray courtroom on charges stemming from a pair of incidents that took place in August and November of 2017.
Prosecutor Ron Simenik opened the proceedings with an agreed statement of facts.
The charges, which were initially for sexual assault, were changed to a lesser charge of common assault.
The statement claimed in November 2017, at an RCMP Christmas party, the senior officer “inappropriately” touched a female officer by slapping her on the buttocks.
Simenik noted the incident left her “emotionally and psychologically distressed.”
“This is an unfortunate way for any young officer to start out their career,” he told reporters following the verdict. “It’s also an unfortunate way for a senior officer to end theirs.”
As a result of the incidents, Keays was suspended and in January of this year he resigned.
He also has not had an alcoholic beverage in over a year.
In his closing statements, defence attorney Rob Beeman suggested these acts were mostly done in jest, describing the accused as ‘old school,’ and claiming Keays typically expressed himself through physical gestures.
He noted a video from the night in question showed that while contact was made – it was not meant to be threatening or intimidating.
Beeman presented 37 letters from RCMP colleagues of Keays, many of which pointed to his good character – describing him as “always respectful and filled with integrity”.
He did note however that Keays also suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – which in Beeman’s view – could be seen as a significant contributor to his past alcoholism.
Beeman’s request for sentencing was a ‘Conditional Discharge’ along with 6 months probation.
Instead, Justice T. W. Achtymichuk opted to rule in favour of the prosecution, handing Keays a suspended sentence that includes 12 months probation.
“You’ve accepted responsibility and expressed remorse,” the Justice said. “I have no doubt once you deal with your mental health, you will once again be an active community member.”
Along with the sentence, Keays is required to keep the peace, maintain good behaviour and notify the court in case of any change of address or phone number.
“I apologize to anybody and everybody who’s been affected by my actions,” he told the court.
Keays must also report to a probation officer within two days and will be required to continue therapy sessions at his probation officers’ request.