A Red Deer RCMP officer was cleared of sexual assault with a weapon but convicted of breach of trust for his actions with a woman he met while responding to a domestic violence call in 2016.
Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice David Gates said Tuesday he was not convinced Const. Jason Tress’ actions May 1, 2016, when he took a 19-year-old woman alone into a bedroom to talk to her about the domestic incident involving her friend, proved sexual assault with a weapon beyond a reasonable doubt.
Gates said he was convinced Tress inappropriately turned what began as an interview of a potential witness into a sexually charged conversation that left his victim “stunned.”
When she got up to leave the room, Tress stood in front of the bedroom door, but the judge found he did not impede her.
The delay before he stepped aside and let the woman out was “very, very brief, even momentary.”
Throughout the 2 a.m. incident in the bedroom, Tress never touched or approached the woman, said the judge. Nor was his conversation challenging or aggressive.
However, the judge was deeply critical of Tress’ actions with the woman and believed her testimony that Tress asked her whether her breasts were real or fake.
Gates said this was not casual or innocent flirting but “somewhat predatory in nature.”
His interactions with the woman were for a “corrupt purpose,” that being Tress’ sexual gratification, said the judge.
The bedroom incident had nothing to do with the investigation and represented a breach of trust, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Sentencing is set for Nov. 26.
Gates also said that the evidence shows Tress later attempted to cover up the incident in the apartment. Tress took no notes and later decided not to charge a man arrested at the scene accused of attacking the victim’s friend.
Tress had been training a rookie police officer the night of the incident and was later questioned why the arrested man was released without charges. The officer took her concerns to another officer, who brought them to a corporal’s attention.
Tress was furious and confronted the two constables. That reaction was “out of all proportion” considering the circumstances, unless Tress was trying to bury the whole apartment incident, said the judge.
When the woman rebuffed his advances in the apartment, Tress was determined to shut down the investigation so what had happened would not come out during a trial or through other scrutiny.
The victim did not go to police after the incident. She was contacted by Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), who were investigating other complaints about Tress.
Tress, who is married to an RCMP officer, now lives in Edmonton and works in the oilpatch. He was ordered to turn over his passport until sentencing. The constable was suspended from duty in August 2016, at first with pay but as of November 2017 without pay.
In June, Tress was found not guilty of breach of trust and sexual assault in connection with an alleged incident involving a 19-year-old in custody at the Red Deer detachment on Canada Day 2016.
Tress is going to trial in November on a charge of sexual assault dating back to 2012 in a northern Alberta community.