There was plenty of drinking in Tasiujaq that weekend in 2011, just as there was whenever a shipment of alcohol arrived in the isolated village in Quebec’s far north.
The lone police officer on duty on the night of Sept. 19 had her hands full. Fresh out of police school, she had been on the job less than a month and was not even authorized to carry a sidearm.
But as she apprehended a 17-year-old girl who had become heavily intoxicated, Const. Danielle Gallant made a decision that would come back to haunt her.
According to court documents, she handcuffed the girl and placed her in the back of her Kativik Regional Police Force vehicle truck. Already in the backseat for having caused a disturbance — but not handcuffed — was Joe Kritik, who at age 24 already had four convictions for sexual assault and was listed on the national sex offender registry.
As the officer made a third stop, she left the two detainees alone, and Mr. Kritik pounced on the girl. “When Constable Gallant came back to her vehicle after a short period of time, she observed Mr. Kritik with his pants down while on top of the plaintiff,” a statement of claim filed by the victim states. “The plaintiff was unable to defend herself, being handcuffed in her back and unable to leave the vehicle, the doors being locked.”
Despite the assault, the girl was kept in a police cell overnight and was not given medical attention, the lawsuit says. Her parents were not contacted.
Kritik pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the girl in 2012 and was sentenced to 39 months in prison.
A lawsuit filed last year in Quebec Superior Court against Ms. Gallant, the Kativik Regional Police Force (KRPF) and the Kativik Regional Government is seeking $400,000 in damages for the victim, who cannot be identified.
“The KRPF manifested a serious lack of professionalism and gross negligence by leaving an inexperienced police officer, with no knowledge or life experience of northern Quebec populations, and without the authorization to carry a firearm, to ensure alone the security of the public,” the suit, recently uncovered by La Presse, reads.
The allegations have not been tested in court and none of the defendants has filed a defence. A spokeswoman for the Kativik Regional Government, which oversees the police force, said it would not comment while the matter is before the courts. A message left Thursday for Ms. Gallant was not returned.
The assault has left deep psychological scars, according to documents filed with the court. The victim, now 21, had no history of mental health problems but now displays symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, psychologist Joseph Beltempo concluded after assessing her last year. She experiences nightmares of the rape and will not leave her home alone. She is drinking more and is afraid of men.
“Her depression, loneliness and isolation are getting worse,” the psychologist wrote.