An Alberta RCMP officer is facing two sexual assault charges and two counts of breach of trust following three "serious and sensitive" investigations, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team said Thursday.
The charges against Const. Jason Tress, 30, involve three different women.
Two of the incidents allegedly occurred while the officer was on duty.
It took great courage for her to step forward and tell investigators what happened - Susan Hughson, ASIRT
"Sexual assaults are difficult enough for people who have been sexually assaulted," said Susan Hughson, executive director of ASIRT. "It would seem reasonable that it's only more difficult for those women or children or victims when the perpetrator is a police officer."
Court documents allege the first incident took place in a hamlet north of Edmonton in February or March 2012, resulting in a charge of sexual assault.
The second incident took place on May 1, 2016 in the city of Red Deer. Tress asked a woman — described in a court document as "a complainant and material witness" in an investigation — to expose her breasts. Tress is charged with criminal breach of trust in the incident.
Woman in custody at the time
The third incident happened July 1, 2016 when Tress asked a 19-year-old woman who was in custody at the Red Deer RCMP detachment to show him her breasts, the documents say. That led to Tress being charged with criminal breach of trust.
He then allegedly coerced the woman to expose her breasts which resulted in a sexual assault charge.
The investigation was opened in July 15, 2016 when the third woman filed a complaint with RCMP, said Hughson, who praised the woman for coming forward.
"I think it took great courage for these women to provide the information that they did and in particular the first young lady," Hughson said during a news conference. "It took great courage for her to step forward and tell investigators what happened."
Tress made his first court appearance Wednesday in Red Deer. He will be back in court April 12. He is not in custody.
Tress was suspended with pay in August 2016 and will remain off duty until the internal processes and all criminal charges against him are resolved, said RCMP Chief Supt. George Stephenson.
"These charges are very serious," he said. "The fact that he's suspended acknowledges the RCMP's concern about the serious nature of these offences that he's now facing."
Tress has been a member of the RCMP for eight years.
ASIRT investigates serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct as well as incidents involving police resulting in serious injury or death.