Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, 24 May 2019 17:32 EDT
Last updated Friday, 24 May 2019 17:43 EDT
OTTAWA – Canada's correction service apologized on Friday for mistakenly saying that it was immediately called police when it heard allegations that a Nova Institution guard for women had sexually assaulted a prisoner.
Indeed, the federal correctional service waited three months to contact the police while conducting an internal investigation into alleged incidents at the Truro multi-level facility, N.S.
Expecting to report charges to the police while internal probes take place is a common complaint about how institutions with authority over potentially vulnerable people, such as schools, churches and athletic organizations, respond to concerns about sexual violence.
On Wednesday, the correctional service insisted that, in fact, he immediately informed the police.
"Please note that as soon as allegations of misconduct were carried out, we began our investigations and informed our police partners of the matter," a statement reads.
The service changed its history on Friday, however, in response to questions from The Canadian Press.
"We have reviewed the calendar of our cooperation with the police," he said. "We apologize for having erroneously communicated CSC contact times with the police: while the police are investigating, and this problem appears to be before the courts, we are unable to provide further details."
The service also claimed to have followed the guidelines of the Treasury Board in putting the official on administrative leave during this investigation, and contacted the police with details of the March 29th review.
Truro police chief, David MacNeil, said this week that the police began an investigation on March 28 after receiving a complaint.
"Since this is an open and active investigation, we cannot comment further at this time," he said.
The correctional service said Friday that when it contacted Truro police, the force indicated that it had "recently received a call".
"There was no indication that an investigation was already underway," he said.
The correctional service now faces a lawsuit by three women who claim to have been assaulted in Nova – one of the six federal institutions for women in Canada.
In response to the launch of the case, the advocacy and legal affairs director for the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, Savannah Gentile, called the women "incredibly brave" for coming forward, adding that the "fear of retaliation "is a common and founded fear in prison.
Halifax's attorney, Mike Dull, said Wednesday that two of the three women are still serving time.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for Public Security Minister Ralph Goodale said the federal government could not comment on court cases but stressed that the minister expects Canada's choral service to ensure that all allegations of sexual violence are thoroughly investigated .