Special Investigations Unit

Cop Charged With Sexually Assaulting Girl

A St. Thomas police officer is charged after being accused of sexually assaulting an underage girl.

The Special Investigations Unit announced Thursday that Constable Garry Christiansen has been charged with one count each of sexual assault, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation, and assault.

The province’s police watchdog began investigating after the St. Thomas Police Service received a complaint of a “sexual nature” against the officer on September 8. The alleged incidents took place between January 2016 and January 2017 and involved a young girl, whose age has not been released.

Christiansen was arrested but has since been released with a number of conditions, including that he not contact the girl. He is to appear in St. Thomas court to answer to the charges on October 17.

The 27-year veteran of the force has been suspended with pay, in accordance with the Police Services Act of Ontario.

“I can assure you that this is an isolated incident and the members of the St. Thomas Police Service uphold the highest standards of professionalism every day and are dedicated to the safety and wellbeing of every citizen in St. Thomas,” said Acting St. Thomas Police Chief Chris Herridge in a statement.

Herridge told Blackburn News London that this is a dark day for the force.

“I have worked here for over 28 years… I can’t recall during my career an officer being charged criminally with these type of offenses,” said Herridge “When one officer finds himself in trouble, it shines a negative light on all police officers and policing in general. But like everything, we just need some time to get through this.”

The SIU conducts criminal investigations into incidents involving police and civilians that have resulted in serious injury, death, or allegations of sexual assault.