Police officer honoured while facing sexual assault charge

Ottawa police Sgt. Steven Desjourdy received a commendation in 2012 from his employer as he faced a charge of sexual assault in connection to a 2008 cellblock strip search.

Ottawa police Const. Steven Desjourdy found not guilty, faces Police Services Act hearing

Sgt. Steven Desjourdy was found not guilty of sexual assault related to a 2008 strip search in the Ottawa police cell block. (Jamie Long/CBC)

An Ottawa police officer was honoured for his administrative duties in 2012, while facing a criminal charge of sexual assault.

Sgt. Steven Desjourdy received a letter of commendation for 2012, from the Ottawa Police Service.

Desjourdy has been assigned to administrative duties since the beginning of an investigation by the Ontario Special Investigations Unit in November 2010.

Desjourdy was acquitted of the criminal charge by Judge Neil Kozloff in early April.

The charge was laid in relation to a cellblock strip search of an Ottawa woman in the fall of 2008.

Ottawa police have said they will continue to pursue a discreditable conduct charge in relation to the case, which means Desjourdy could be fired, demoted or fined if he's found guilty.

'Cheapens' value of commendation, lawyer says

The charge also relates to the fact the woman, whose name is protected under a publication ban in the criminal trial, was left in her cell for more than three hours after the strip search, while topless and wearing urine-soaked clothing.

Sean Dewart, lawyer for the woman Desjourdy strip-searched, said the decision "cheapens the value" of a commendation for any Ottawa police officer that is honoured.

"It's hard to know what Steven Desjourdy did in the last 12 months, while he was on fully-paid leave facing criminal charges, that brought glory to the Ottawa Police Service or himself," Dewart said.

"One is hard-pressed to think he deserves commendation."

According to Const. Marc Soucy, Desjourdy was assigned to create a computer program designed to help police with their work flow.

"He went above and beyond and developed something that's saving a lot of time and energy for those officers," said Soucy.

"That program's being used by different and a lot of sections in our police force," he said.

Soucy said Desjourdy was nominated by his supervisor and that would have been approved by the higher chains of command.

Desjourdy’s "manager/NCO commendation," is awarded to an officer who:

  • Demonstrates notable skill, judgement or dedication.
  • Demonstrates a high standard of police conduct or humanitarianism.
  • Diligent and sustained effort (well above normal).
  • Developing a method or program with positive effect.  

A hearing date has not been set for Desjourdy's discreditable conduct charge.