An Edmonton Police Service officer was charged with sexual assault, breach of trust and unauthorized computer use following an investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.
ASIRT started investigating on Aug. 9, 2019, after an alleged sexual assault involving an EPS officer.
Evidence on other matters was found that ASIRT thought might warrant their own investigation, the agency said in a news release Thursday. The investigation was forwarded to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service.
The Crown reviewed the case and ASIRT executive director Susan Hughson determined the officer should be charged.
On Dec. 8, Const. Hunter Robinz was arrested and charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of unauthorized use of a computer database and two separate counts of breach of trust.
According to ASIRT, the first charge stems from an incident on June 29, 2019, when an officer — who was in uniform and on duty — went back the home of a 24-year-old he’d met earlier during a service call “and a sexual assault occurred.”
A lot of trust is placed in police officers, ASIRT stressed, and they often meet people in times of crisis or vulnerability.
“During the course of the earlier investigation, evidence was obtained that supported the belief that, over a period from approximately March 2017 to June 2019, while acting in connection with his duties as a police officer, the same officer engaged in a pattern of behaviour involving his on-duty contact with women that breached the standard of responsibility and conduct required as a police officer, and that the officer used his position for a purpose other than the public good, thereby committing a breach of trust,” ASIRT said.
In regards to the third and fourth charges, ASIRT said evidence was found “that provided reasonable grounds to believe” the same officer accessed secure databases for names and addresses of people “for personal reasons unrelated to his duties as a police officer, thereby committing the offences of unauthorized use of a computer and breach of trust.” Those database searches were allegedly done between around September 2018 and July 2019, ASIRT said.
Robinz was released on an undertaking with conditions to appear in Provincial Court in Edmonton on Jan. 25, 2022.
The EPS said Thursday it learned of the sexual assault allegation against Robinz on Aug. 9, 2019, and he was removed from “public-facing duties” immediately, pending the results of the ASIRT investigation.
On March 13, 2021, Robinz was charged by RCMP with assault and unsafe storage of a firearm. These charges stemmed from an incident in Stony Plain a day earlier when he was off-duty.
The constable, who at the time had been with EPS for six years, was relieved from duty without pay.
Robinz remains relieved from duty without pay, EPS said Thursday.
“In light of the pending Criminal Code prosecutions and Professional Standards Branch investigation, there will be no further comment at this time.”
The fact that the accused in this case was a member of law enforcement when the 2019 sexual assault offence allegedly occurred is troubling, said the CEO of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE).
“Very concerning,” said Mary Jane James. “I’m really happy the RCMP did their due diligence and investigated as they did and proceeded with charges.
“The reason that many victims — in fact, most victims — don’t come forward is because of the fear of not being believed and because of the fear of being blamed for what happened.”
“In this particular circumstance, obviously this person is in a position of power and authority, and that makes the alleged crime even more egregious.
“It’s very difficult for the victim to wrap their head around. I think we trust people in (positions) of authority, we look up to them, we can’t imagine that they’d be capable of creating that kind of harm for someone.”
James says sexual violence still permeates every aspect of our society and no workplace is immune, including not-for-profit groups, governments and even public service and law enforcement agencies.
“Sexual violence is just everywhere. So the fact that there’s a situation coming out of EPS with an alleged offender… I can’t say that I’m surprised.”
Those dealing with sexual assault in Edmonton can contact the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE).
Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available to anyone in Alberta who is looking for support or referrals to specialized sexual assault service providers. Call or text 1-866-403-8000. For services in other Provinces and Territories in Canada visit the Ending Violence Association of Canada.