June 11, 2019 12:38 pm

St. Thomas police officer pleads guilty to sexual interference in case involving youth

A St. Thomas police officer has been pleaded guilty to sexual interference involving a youth.

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A St. Thomas police officer has resigned from the force and pleaded guilty to a criminal charge more than a year and a half after allegations against him first came to light.

Police Chief Chris Herridge issued a statement Tuesday morning regarding Const. Garry Christiansen.

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The update said allegations about Christiansen’s conduct were first brought forward on Sept. 7, 2017, and Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) was immediately contacted.

READ MORE: St. Thomas police officer charged in sexual assault involving youth

Christiansen, who had been an officer since Jan. 3, 1990, was placed on suspension.

The SIU said it investigated alleged assaults against a female youth that reportedly occurred between January 2016 and January 2017.

As a result of the investigation, the SIU said in October 2017 that it charged Christiansen with one count each of sexual assault, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation and assault.

Christiansen remained suspended as the case made its way through the courts before resigning from his position on June 10, 2019.

READ MORE: St. Thomas man, 47, facing child sex offences after alert father contacted police

In his statement, Herridge said Christiansen pleaded guilty to one count of sexual interference on June 11.

“This has been a difficult time for the victim, the community and our police service,” Herridge said in the statement. “It is always very disappointing when an officer is charged with a criminal offence. It is disheartening for our members, and we understand it is for the community as well.”

Herridge also said the St. Thomas Police Service’s co-operation with the SIU “clearly demonstrates every person, regardless of their employment, will be held accountable for their actions.”

“I want to assure the community, especially the victim in this matter, that this is not a reflection of our women and men, who work so hard every day to uphold the law and keep our communities safe,” he added.

Christiansen’s case has been adjourned until Sept. 18, 2019 for further submissions in the sentencing phase of the case.

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