Special constables in cellblocks often had little guidance on how to proceed with strip searches, a special constable told a court Tuesday.
Special Constable Melanie Morris testified in an Ottawa court Tuesday at the trial of Sergeant Steven Desjourdy, the officer charged with sexual assault in the 2008 cellblock strip search of an Ottawa woman.
The woman cannot be identified because of a publication ban.
Morris was, along with four other officers, involved in bringing the woman into the cellblock.
In a police surveillance video released to the public Morris can be seen limping after the woman in custody appeared to kick her leg. With Morris limping, Desjourdy took over the search and appeared to cut off a woman's bra and shirt.
Special Constable hadn't read strip-search protocols
Morris testified in court that while searching for weapons she looked down into the woman's pants and underwear.
She said she didn't know she was violating the Ottawa Police policy on strip searches.
When asked by defence counsel if she'd read the strip search protocols before the 2008 incident she replied "no."
Morris also said she'd never had any courses about strip search methodology.
She agreed with Desjourdy's defence lawyer Michael Edelson that officers are often "left to their own devices" about how to proceed in a strip search.
Defence counsel also asked her whether Sgt. Desjourdy said anything sexually inappropriate or made sexual threats to the woman, and Morris said no. She also replied no when asked if Desjourdy tried to use his power in a sexual way.
In her agreement statement of facts to the court, the Ottawa woman said she felt sexually violated after having her clothes forcibly cut off and having to stand partially nude.