SQ officer charged in Indigenous abuse probe found dead at home

Alain Juneau was charged following an investigation last year into complaints by Indigenous women in Val-d'Or and other communities in northern Quebec. The allegations stem from his time working in Schefferville, Que.

Charges against Alain Juneau, 56, stem from time working for provincial police in Schefferville

Alain Juneau was facing charges dating back to the 1990s, when he was a Sûreté du Québec officer in the northern village of Schefferville, Que. (Radio-Canada)

A former Quebec provincial police officer facing sexual assault charges was found dead in his home in Rimouski, Que., the coroner's office confirmed Wednesday.

Alain Juneau, 56, was found dead on Jan. 1.

He had been charged with sexual assault and assault with a weapon following a Montreal police investigation last year into complaints by Indigenous women in Val-d'Or and other communities in northern Quebec.

"His death is currently under investigation by a coroner and any information related to the probable cause and circumstances surrounding his death will be included in the coroner's report, which will be made public in the coming months," coroner's office spokeswoman Geneviève Guilbault said in a statement emailed to the Canadian Press.

The charges stemmed from Juneau's time as a Sureté du Québec officer in the remote town of Schefferville on the Labrador border in the 1990s. 

He was also due back in court this month in Matane, located close to 100 kilometres east of Rimouski, to answer to another charge of sexual assault in an incident that occurred in 2006. 

In November, Crown prosecutors concluded there wasn't enough evidence to charge any of the six provincial police officers originally accused. (Radio-Canada)

Juneau, second officer charged after probe

Originally six provincial police officers in Val-d'Or, a city 600 kilometres northwest of Montreal, were accused of physically and sexually abusing indigenous women following an investigative report by Radio-Canada in 2015.

Quebec's Public Security Department mandated the Montreal police force to investigate the allegations.

By April 2016, Montreal police had 38 cases of complaints of police abuse, including rape, sexual assault, harassment and so-called "starlight tours," where police would allegedly take people against their will and drive them far outside town and abandon them.

In November, Crown prosecutors concluded there wasn't enough evidence to charge any of the six provincial police officers originally accused, but brought charges against Juneau and another officer for alleged assault committed in a separate northern town.

Premier Philippe Couillard announced in December the creation of a provincial inquiry into relations between First Nations peoples and various government-run bodies, including the police.

With files from Canadian Press