A Nunavut RCMP officer has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting a female prisoner at the Baker Lake RCMP detachment in 2010.

However, Justice Bonnie Tulloch told Const. Justin Dickens that "If lack of reasonable judgment was an offence, I'd find you guilty."

The prisoner testified she was arrested by Dickens in Baker Lake, taken to the detachment and put in a cell. She said Dickens started to touch her vagina and buttocks with one hand while she was lying on the floor of the cell. She said Dickens was holding down her hands with his other hand.

A second woman said she witnessed the incident.

Dickens testified he checked the prisoner’s waistline and back pockets with the back of his hand and with the side of his hand over her clothes. He said when the woman protested, he realized he should call in a female guard to complete the search.

Judge Bonnie Tulloch said there was reasonable doubt about allegations that Dickens touched the prisoner in a sexual and intentional manner. Tulloch said the prisoner was touched on her buttocks and maybe her vagina over her clothes but it was part of the search.

Because there were no video cameras in Baker Lake, the judge said, she had to decide the case based on evidence from witnesses. Tulloch said she felt the two main Crown witnesses were honest and reasonable, but their stories differed.

After her verdict, Tulloch said Dickens had ignored many RCMP policies, adding it defied common sense that an officer would search someone of the opposite gender with no one around.

She said if more guards, especially female guards, aren't properly trained the RCMP should expect more charges of excessive force and sexual assault.

But she said with the trial, Dickens had paid the price for his bad judgment.