Nova Scotia·Video

Former Bridgewater police chief sentenced to 15 months in jail for sexual exploitation

A Bridgewater, N.S., judge has sentenced the town's former police chief to 15 months behind bars for sexual exploitation involving a teenage girl who accused him of assaulting her during a drive together in May 2016.

John Collyer will also serve a year of probation and must register as a sex offender

Former Bridgewater police chief sentenced to 15 months in jail for sexual exploitation

3 years ago
Duration 2:29
A Bridgewater, N.S., judge has sentenced the town's former police chief to 15 months behind bars for sexual exploitation involving a teenage girl who accused him of assaulting her during a drive together in May 2016.

A Bridgewater, N.S., judge has sentenced the town's former police chief to 15 months behind bars for sexual exploitation involving a teenage girl who accused him of assaulting her during a drive together in May 2016. 

Justice Mona Lynch on Wednesday agreed with a joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers to sentence John Collyer to jail time, followed by one year of probation. He must provide a DNA sample and be on a national sex offender registry for 20 years.

Collyer was convicted in October following a trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. He had pleaded not guilty and denied he had sexually assaulted the complainant, who was a family friend.

Collyer was off-duty at the time of the incident. He was put on administrative leave when the allegations first emerged and then suspended as police chief after he was charged.

Crown attorney Roland Levesque said there were two aggravating factors when determining his sentence: the fact the victim was young and vulnerable, and the position of power the police chief held.

'Disheartening for everyone in the community'

"As a society, we depend on police officers to uphold the law and to protect us, so when a police officer breaches that trust that society puts in them, it's very disheartening for everyone in the community," Levesque said.

The court heard victim impact statements Wednesday from the victim in the case, who was almost 17 at the time of the assault, and from her mother. Their identities are protected under a publication ban.

The mother spoke of feeling like a failure as a parent for allowing her child to be exposed to sexual exploitation. 

"A lot of people said they felt something wasn't right," the mother said. "I was so blind, I said, 'If you can't trust the chief of police, who can you trust?'"

She now finds it difficult to trust anyone. The stress of the events has caused her to miss work and put her family in a bad place financially. 

What the victim said in court

The young woman, who is now almost 21, spoke directly to Collyer in her statement.

"John, this was never my fault. I never asked for you to do what you did to me," she said.

Crown attorney Roland Levesque says the fact the victim was so young and vulnerable, and the position of power Collyer had warranted a tougher sentence. (Robert Short/CBC)

She talked about dealing with self-hatred and self-blame because of the incident, but called herself a "fighter." She said she wants Collyer to admit responsibility for the assault.

While on probation, Collyer is not allowed to drink alcohol or take any intoxicant, possess any firearms, and must stay away from the family of the young woman he was convicted of assaulting. 

Collyer's lawyer said he maintains his innocence, but he chose to say nothing to the court. 

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