Edmonton

Former RCMP officer gets suspended sentence for touching subordinate without consent

A former RCMP sergeant was sentenced to 12 months probation after pleading guilty to assault in provincial court on Monday.

Incidents occurred at after-hours Christmas party that was marked by poor behaviour

Jason Keays was sentenced to 12 months probation in Fort McMurray court. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)

A former RCMP staff sergeant was given a suspended sentence with 12 months probation after pleading guilty to assault in provincial court on Monday in Fort McMurray. 

Former staff sergeant Jason Keays was charged ​​​​​with one count of sexual assault in June 2018. On Monday, he pleaded guilty to common assault. 

Keays touched the victim without her consent on several occasions, according to the agreed statement of facts. All of the incidents happened while the two were not on duty. 

Keays and the complainant didn't work together directly, but ultimately Keays was the complainant's supervisor. 

Prosecutor Ron Simenik said the "assaults were of an intimate nature as opposed to a sexual assault."

Defence lawyer Robb Beeman said the touching included Keays placing his hand on the complainant's lower back.

The charge against Keays stems from a Christmas party in November 2017. 

Keays was urged to go to a party with his colleagues at a co-worker's apartment, according to Beeman. 

The party was loud, busy and boisterous, with "lots of poor behaviour."

Keays walked up behind the complainant and slapped her buttocks and the incident was captured on video. 

The complainant did not react and wasn't aware of the incident until the next day when a co-worker showed her the video. 

In the agreed statement of facts, the complainant said the incident was emotionally and psychologically distressing but she was not hurt physically. 

The complainant did not file a victim impact statement. 

Incident was 'out of character'

Beeman outlined Keays' work history and ethic.

Keays excelled quickly in the RCMP and climbed the ranks. At age 44, he had "supervised virtually every member of the RCMP in Fort McMurray," said Beeman. 

Beeman submitted 37 letters of reference for Keays. The "common theme in most of those letters speak to his honesty, his integrity, his respect [that] he brought into the workplace."

But Keays behaviour was "unacceptable and Staff Sgt. Keays agrees."

Keays was suspended with pay in 2017 and chose to resign in January 2019. 

Keays had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, which sometimes manifested itself as severe social anxiety, said Beeman.

"One of his coping mechanisms was drinking alcohol," said Beeman. 

Beeman also said Keays has been to counselling since the incident and stopped drinking. 

In the sentence, the judge said Keays will have to issue a letter of apology to the complainant, report to a probation officer and take any recommended counselling, and refrain from interacting with the complainant.