BRIDGEWATER, N.S. — The police chief in Bridgewater, N.S., has been charged with sexually assaulting a teenaged girl.
The province’s Serious Incident Response Team said it laid one charge of sexual assault and two charges of sexual exploitation against 53-year-old John Collyer over allegations dating between April 1 and July 31 of last year.
SIRT said Thursday it learned of the allegations from the RCMP in August, but it required time to collect all of the evidence.
“It involved interviews with many people but we were also seeking … certain documentary evidence that was in the hands of a third party and the nature of where and how it was held led to delays that were beyond our control,” said Ron MacDonald, the director of the police watchdog agency.
The girl was 17 at the time of the alleged offence in the Bridgewater area on Nova Scotia’s south shore, MacDonald said.
He said it is the first time in his five-year tenure with the independent agency that charges of sexual assault have been laid against a police chief in the province, although there have been a number of investigations of police officers.
Pat Cappello, the chair of the community’s police commission, said a motion was passed at a meeting Thursday evening to suspend Collyer for 60 days with pay.
Collyer was placed on administrative leave by Bridgewater’s police commission in August after it became public that SIRT was investigating the alleged sexual assault.
He had been police chief for five years at the time of the original allegations, and prior to that was a long-serving officer with 26 years on the police force.
Collyer is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Bridgewater on June 14.
Asked why the allegations against the police chief were only revealed last year after a CTV report, Cappello said at the time “we were just scrambling trying to figure out what was going on.”
“It was a personnel matter and really there wasn’t a whole lot we could say,” he said.
The Canadian Press