Cellblock officers take stand as strip search trial resumes

An Ottawa police officer who was monitoring a cellblock with another sergeant now facing a charge of sexual assault told court today that he couldn't remember being told if the victim was suicidal.
Trial of officer charged in cell block strip search resumes after it was adjourned in October. 2:39

An Ottawa police officer who was monitoring a cellblock with another sergeant now facing a charge of sexual assault told court today that he couldn't remember being told if the victim was suicidal.

Sgt. David Christie also told court it didn't make sense to cut off the woman's bra and shirt but leave her with her pants on. Officers are supposed to remove a prisoner's pants if the prisoner is potentially suicidal.

The high-profile trial for Sgt. Steven Desjourdy resumed this morning after being adjourned in October.

Desjourdy is charged with sexual assault in the cell block strip search of an Ottawa woman in 2008, and pleaded not guilty.

The woman he is accused of sexually assaulting cannot be identified because of a publication ban.

Strip search caught on surveillance video

The case dates back to Sept. 6, 2008, when officers took the woman into custody.

A strip search of the woman was captured on surveillance video and then released to the public by a judge.

The video shows the woman kicking a female officer, being kneed several times, forced to the ground and pinned by four officers before having her bra and shirt cut off with scissors by Desjourdy.

The release of the video ignited a debate about whether the strip search was proper police procedure or sexual assault.

Christie asked to outline cellblock search policy

Christie was on duty and was nearing the end of his shift on Sept. 5, 2008 when the victim was first brought into cellblock. His shift ended and he left before the strip search began.

During the trial Wednesday morning, Christie outlined standard cellblock search policy. He said searches should take place in a separate room with a special constable of the same gender, and that the clothes should be removed piece by piece.

Afterward, prisoners should be given clothes deemed safe to wear in the cells. It's alleged the victim in this case was left topless in her cell for three hours with soiled pants before she was given coveralls.

Christie also said if a female special constable wasn't around to conduct a strip search in a separate room, he would use the intercom to request a female officer to come down to the cells, or use the radio to bring in a patrol officer to conduct the search.

But under cross examination by defence lawyer Michael Edelson, Christie said he would only do that for a co-operative prisoner, not someone who had previously assaulted an officer.

In opening statements, the Crown had said Desjourdy's sexual assault was a crime of power with the intent to humiliate the victim.

It was still unclear Wednesday morning if Desjourdy will testify.

The delay in proceedings led to scheduling conflicts in booking the extra time for Crown and defence lawyers and the judge to hear the case.