OTTAWA — A Mountie accused of severe, long-term abuse of his 11-year-old son told an Ottawa court that an RCMP psychiatrist suggested he play down a history of constant nightmares when he underwent a psychological evaluation before joining the police force.
The man, who can’t be named to protect the identity of his son, made the claim Monday during the first day of defence testimony at his trial.
The Mountie and his wife were charged in February 2013 in what Ottawa police described as one of the worst cases of abuse they had seen.
In court, the man testified he suffered nightmares from his childhood in war-torn Lebanon.
He also detailed how he was sexually abused as a child.
But the now-suspended officer says when he wrote in an RCMP entrance exam that he was having nightmares, a psychiatrist suggested that he take the test again, but alter his answer.
“That was the distinct impression that I got,” the man said of his recollection of advice he was given.
The man and his wife each face a charge of aggravated assault, forcible confinement and failing to provide the necessaries of life.
The woman is also charged with assaulting the boy with a weapon, while the man faces other charges of sexual assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.
The father chronicled what he characterized as a chaotic, on-again, off-again relationship with his first wife, the boy’s birth mother, and what he endured mentally and emotionally before and after his son was born.
He described how, in his younger years, he found work playing music in Dubai and Indonesia, went through a stressful relationship breakup and then, when his father took ill, returned to Canada, where he took up again with his ex, who he said was suffering from depression.
He got a job with Air Canada, but quit almost immediately, before becoming a municipal bylaw officer, where he saved a life in a fire, the man testified.
Soon afterward, he “got noticed” by the RCMP and started the long process of applying to the police service. He was sent to Regina for training just a month after the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the United States, he said.
While he was there, his wife informed him that she was pregnant, but then told him she had lost one twin, a claim the man told the court that he later discovered was untrue.
He also testified that his life was in constant turmoil after his son’s birth, as he was constantly caring for the baby and his wife, who he said suffered from fibromyalgia, had a debilitating stroke during childbirth and was on powerful painkillers.
“I was a full-time nurse, a full-time police officer,” he told the court.
After he left his first wife in 2002, the officer said he faced accusations from her of abuse and of being a terrorist planning to take their son to the Middle East, before he gave up full custody in 2006.
During that period, he met and married his second wife, now his co-accused, and said that she and his son got along well together. He was also assigned to the RCMP’s national security unit, he said.
In a police interview after his arrest in 2013, the officer admitted he tied his son to a wall or a pole in the basement of his home, where the boy developed cuts on his wrists from the chains or plastic zip ties used to confine him.
Last fall, a doctor who examined the boy at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario testified the then-11-year-old weighed just 50 pounds, appeared emaciated and had sunken eyes and swollen knees.
In 2013, the RCMP said the father had been on leave since May 2011. The reason for that remains under a court-ordered publication ban.