Police officer facing assault charge also accused of workplace sexual harassment

CBC News has learned that an Ottawa police officer accused of assaulting a woman is also being investigated internally for allegedly sexually harassing rookie officers he was assigned to mentor.

Const. Carl Keenan was charged criminally in December 2017 and is currently suspended with pay

Ottawa police Const. Carl Keenan, 42, has been an Ottawa police officer since 2009. This image appears in a 2012 YouTube video showing Keenan training with other military veterans to climb Mount Everest. (Muse Entertainment/YouTube)

CBC News has learned that an Ottawa police officer accused of assaulting a woman is also being investigated internally for allegedly sexually harassing rookie officers he was assigned to mentor.

The harassment allegations are coming to light more than a year after Const. Carl Keenan, 42, was charged by MRC des Collines police with assault causing bodily harm following an off-duty incident in La Peche, Que., on Dec. 14, 2017.

Ottawa police issued a news release five days after Keenan's arrest and called the incident a "domestic matter."

At the time the force also said it was not naming Keenan in order to protect the identity of the victim.

Keenan's criminal trial before a judge alone is scheduled to begin Jan. 29 in a Gatineau, Que., courtroom.

Internal investigation

The criminal charge triggered an internal investigation by the Ottawa police professional standards section.

​Sources close to the investigation tell CBC that at least two female officers came forward to the section with sexual harassment complaints against Keenan.

The officers allege the harassment occurred while they were being trained at west division several years ago. Keenan was a patrol officer at the time and was assigned to be their coach officer. 

Before new police recruits can respond to calls on their own, they must spend 500 hours on patrol under the supervision of a coach officer.

Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau declined to comment on the internal investigation. (Jonathan Dupaul/CBC)

Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau declined to comment on the internal investigation, but wrote in an emailed statement that police acted swiftly after being notified of the criminal charge against Keenan.

"I can advise you that the officer who was charged in this matter was removed from his duties and suspended in December 2017," the statements reads.

"The Ottawa Police Service does not tolerate sexual violence [or] harassment in our workplace and takes all matters seriously."

Bordeleau also wrote that the force has no information at this time that would require involving Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, which investigates cases of death, serious injury and allegations of sexual assault involving police in the province.

Former military police officer

According to Keenan's LinkedIn profile, he has been a member of the Ottawa Police Service since 2006.

Prior to joining the force he was a military police officer, and in 2007 he took a six-month leave to serve in Afghanistan on a joint Canada-U.S. mission. He was commended by the U.S. military in 2014 for his work.

In 2012, Keenan was asked by Ottawa police to speak to the media about the importance of portable defibrillators after he and another officer used an AED to help save the life an 84-year-old man.

Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof said that because the alleged criminal assault took place while Keenan was off-duty, the union is not paying for Keenan's legal costs.

Skof said Keenan's suspension is with pay.

According to the Ontario government's sunshine list, Keenan earned more than $109,000 in 2017, the year he was criminally charged.