Nunavut RCMP member accused of sexual assault tells his story Aug. 21 in Iqaluit
Cst. Justin Dickens, 32, maintains innocence
An RCMP officer accused of a 2010 sexual assault at the RCMP detachment in the Nunavut community of Baker Lake three years ago stepped into the witness box Aug. 21 in day two of his trial at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.
On Aug. 20 the court heard allegations from the complainant, that Cst. Justin Dickens, 32, had touched her inappropriately inside a jail cell in Baker Lake’s RCMP detachment building.
Dickens maintained his innocence throughout his examination by defense lawyer Ursula Goeres and cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Eric Marcoux.
While in the witness box, Dickens placed his arms on the sides of the box. He often put his left hand to the top of his head, exposing a wedding band.
According to Dickens, on the night of March 20, 2010 he had been out patrolling in his RCMP vehicle and “flying the flag” of the RCMP before what he expected would be a busy Saturday night.
While driving around, Dickens received a call saying there was a disturbance at the Northern store involving an intoxicated woman.
Dickens said he found after arriving at the Northern store that a woman — the complainant — had been causing a disturbance and scaring a child.
The woman who called the RCMP, the mother of the child, is a member of the complainant’s extended family, Dickens said.
He told court that he saw the complainant had clearly been drinking, although he saw no disturbance. He asked her to follow him outside to his RCMP vehicle, briefly searched her jacket pockets, and led her into the vehicle — all without handcuffs.
Dickens then called the RCMP dispatcher, but said he couldn’t get through.
While in the vehicle, the woman started getting agitated and started “throwing f-bombs,” and had an overall “disrespectful behaviour,” Dickens said.
That’s when Dickens said he decided to take the woman to the RCMP detachment.
At the detachment, Dickens helped the woman into the building without handcuffs. But, once inside the detachment, the woman started to get even angrier, throwing her boots and her jacket off, he said.
She then said, “just give me my fucking cell,” Dickens said.
The woman walked into the cell herself, something that Dickens said caught him off guard. There she laid down on the floor, face down, Dickens said.
According to RCMP protocol, searches are supposed to happen outside of jail cells. But because the woman walked in herself, Dickens said he started to examine her in the cell.
Dickens said while attempting to search her, the woman told him to leave her alone.
He proceeded to check her waistline and checked her back pockets with the backside of his hand, all on the outside of her clothing.
Then, the complainant yelled “do not fucking touch my private parts,” Dickens related.
After she said that, Dickens decided to leave the cell, and he called for an assistant to come to the attachment to help him with the search.
Dickens made entries in his RCMP notebook about the incident, saying that when prisoners say things like that, “flags go off and you know you have to cover your ass.”
The notes Dickens wrote in his notebook are “to protect you” when something like this happens, he told the court.
When the assistant came in, she agreed to search the woman with Dickens.
The complainant was standing, walking around and swearing. After being told repeatedly to go on her knees, she refused. Dickens put her against the wall to get more control of the woman.
She then pulled away, and Dickens said he reacted by forcing her to the floor with an “arm bar takedown”— a standard police maneuver to get people on the ground quickly.
That’s when Dickens performed the search for the second time, again on his own. The woman had been kicking, and he didn’t want his assistant to accidentally get hurt in the process, he said.
He searched her waistline and pockets while his knee was on her back, but he said he did not touch her “inappropriate areas.”
The search had been completely non-sexual according to Dickens, adding that he “takes his job seriously.” Dickens said he had to inspect the inside of her thigh, which is close to her private parts.
“I did not touch her vagina,” Dickens said.
Marcoux asked Dickens a series of questions about why he wrote a detailed account of what happened in his notebooks, but not in a subsequent summary of events that would be seen by his supervisor after the fact.
Dickens said it never came to his attention to bring up the incident with his supervisor, although he did mention it to his partner when he went home that day.
Dickens said the details were important for his notebooks, and that was it.
Marcoux also asked Dickens about two previous, separate incidents when two members of the RCMP were called for similar disturbances.
Dickens replied that he had dealt with intoxicated women on his own before, and because he had already been out patrolling and because of his size, it would have been easier for him to go alone.
There were only two RCMP members in Baker Lake, population 1,700, at the time. Two other members were on vacation.
Twice during Marcoux’s cross-examination, Dickens’ voice rose above the Crown prosecutor when he began a line of questioning. Justice Bonnie Tulloch had to step in and ask Dickens to stop interfering with Marcoux’s questioning, for which Dickens apologized.
The court will hear closing arguments Aug. 22 at 9 a.m.
Tulloch said she would reserve her decision for a short period of time, which may be by the afternoon of Aug. 23.
If found guilty of the assault, Dickens would face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Dickens has no previous criminal record. The complainant’s name may not be published or broadcast.