A woman who has accused a Red Deer RCMP officer of urging her to lift up her top while in custody, testified that her jailed boyfriend encouraged her to report the officer.
Melissa Heinrichs, 22, agreed when questioned by defence lawyer Robb Beeman that her boyfriend, Keifer Collins, told her his charges might be dropped if she told police about the alleged incident.
Const. Jason Tress has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and breach of trust and is on trial in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.
Beeman questioned Heinrichs closely about the alleged incident at the Red Deer detachment on Canada Day 2016, when she said Tress coerced her into lifting her top.
She and Collins were arrested when RCMP were called to the Travelodge after an employee spotted a gun in the room the couple were staying in. Police eventually found a pair of stolen rifles Collins had stashed in a stairwell when he knew police were on the way.
She testified Monday she was wearing a crop top and short-shorts when Tress made his advances after she was arrested.
However, in a nearly-90-minute video shown in court of Heinrichs being interviewed by Tress at the detachment, she is wearing long jeans and a T-shirt.
Beeman also pressed her on inconsistencies in her testimony about what happened with Tress. She had previously testified she lifted her shirt, bearing her breasts once quickly, after his pestering.
But under cross-examination from Beeman, Heinrichs suggested Tress asked her to do it a second time.
Beeman asked her if she lifted her shirt once, twice or never. “It was never wasn’t it?”
“You know that’s not true,” she replied.
Beeman asked her if she had not told Collins that she was asked twice by Tress to take her shirt off.
“I don’t think I used those words,” she said, repeating that she only lifted her shirt.
Collins testified that Heinrichs phoned him when he was in the remand centre and told him a police officer had asked her to take her shirt off twice. He believed the request was made once in a patrol car and a second time in an interview room.
Collins admitted to Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou that a “selfish part of me” hoped charges would be dropped against him if she went forward with her complaint. But he also thought that “people need to be held accountable.”
Heinrich’s allegation came to the attention of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which interviewed her and Collins in July 2016.
Four months later, all the charges were dropped against Collins, but he testified he had no idea why.
Six witnesses are expected to take the stand Wednesday. Tress is also facing another break of trust charge, involving another woman in 2016.
He is also facing a sexual assault charge, involving a third woman and which occurred in 2012.