The watchdog announced Friday that it had grounds to believe Sgt. Aasim Ansari sexually assaulted a woman while on duty and committed breach of trust by a public officer.
The allegations date back to October 2017. Ansari, a west division patrol officer, responded to a 911 call to Larga Baffin on Richmond Road, a residence for people from the Baffin Region and Nunavut who are in Ottawa for medical treatment. The SIU alleges that during the call Ansari sexually assaulted a woman. The woman was not arrested during the call and was not taken into police custody.
The SIU was contacted by the Ottawa police in November 2017 after the police force received the complaint against Ansari.
Ansari, who worked in sales before joining the police force 27 years ago and previously worked as a detective in the unit that investigates officers for misconduct, is the second Ottawa police officer to be charged with sexual assault in just more than a week. He was arrested Thursday and released on a promise to appear in court on Oct. 15.
Const. Eric Post was charged with two counts of sexual assault last week for allegations relating to one woman, including that he pointed a firearm at her. He was further charged with a host of offences — 32 in total, the most ever laid against an Ottawa officer — that relate to a total of seven alleged victims. Post was charged by the sexual assault unit at his own force.
The SIU did not invoke its mandate, which is to investigate all incidents of sexual assault, serious injury or death involving police, because the allegations against Post all involved women he was in relationships with or previously dated. While the alleged conduct did not occur in the course of his duty as a police officer, police believe some of the offences were committed when he was technically on shift. Post has been suspended with pay since June and remains in custody at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre pending a bail hearing.
In an email to all officers sent Friday, Chief Charles Bordeleau said that Ansari, who remains on the job, has been reassigned to an “administrative role.”
“After any charges are laid against an OPS member by the SIU, the known facts are reviewed … to determine the appropriate duty status of the subject officer,” Bordeleau wrote.
Ansari has no previous history of discipline at the police service and was given a medal for exemplary police service by the Governor General in 2012.
Ottawa police union president Matt Skof would not comment on the charges against Post, since they were not laid in the course of that officer performing his duties as a police officer.
Skof, however, questioned both the SIU’s “process” and “decision-making,” in laying the charge against Ansari, who he says was doing his job at the time of the alleged incident. Those charges shouldn’t have been laid, Skof said.
“Public tax dollars are going to be spent on something that I don’t believe should be in this venue at all,” Skof said.
Skof also said that every case, even in cases of alleged sexual assault perpetrated by Ottawa police officers, has to be assessed on its merits.
“I don’t see this as a systemic issued within OPS,” he said.
Bordeleau also told this newspaper that “the circumstances in every case are different and all matters need to be viewed separately and on their own merit.
“The charges do not represent the values of our service,” Bordeleau said. “They certainly don’t represent the character of our members or the work they do every day serving our community.”
Bordeleau said that the news of the charges is not only disturbing to the community but to his officers, too.
“Just like the community, they want to know that the process will fully examine the allegations.”
None of the allegations against Ansari or Post has been tested in court.