CK cop gets conditional discharge for sexual assault

Andrew Jaconelli. (Photo from Andrew Jaconelli's Linkedin page)

After several delays in proceedings, a Chatham-Kent police officer has been handed a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to sexual assault.

Constable Andrew Jaconelli pleaded guilty via teleconference on Monday afternoon. The charge stemmed from an off-duty incident that dates back to November 2017. The court was told that Jaconelli approached a woman from behind and intentionally grabbed her buttock while intoxicated at a party.

There is a publication ban on any information in the case that could identify the victim.

As a result, Jaconelli was charged in December 2018 with one count of sexual assault and one count of assault with a weapon. The assault with a weapon charge was dropped during Monday’s proceedings.

According to his defence lawyer, Lucas O’Hara, Jaconelli began suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of his work as a first responder, specifically an incident during the line of duty in the summer of 2017 where Jaconelli witnessed a man set himself on fire.

Jaconelli’s lawyer stated that he began to use alcohol to cope with his mental health, ultimately contributing to his actions. The lawyer also noted that Jaconelli began getting professional treatment on his own accord shortly after the offence and does not pose a risk to re-offend.

The Crown was not seeking a jail sentence but asked for a suspended sentence and period of probation.

The sentencing judge said that, based on findings provided by medical professionals, he had no reason to doubt that Jaconelli suffered from PTSD. He concluded that while the offence was serious, Jaconelli’s moral culpability was reduced which led to careful consideration in the sentencing. The judge added that granting a conditional discharge based on the facts was not contrary to public interested.

The judge also noted that there were many consequences that had already been opposed upon Jaconelli including the public nature of the charges, loss of reputation, the discord with his fellow officers, the finding of guilt and unknown consequences surrounding Jaconelli’s job.

The effect of a discharge is that the accused will not receive a criminal conviction or a criminal record. The discharge is conditional on completion of a period of probation.

The discharge will be granted on the condition that Jaconelli complete six months of probation to ensure he “continues on the rehabilitative path that he is on.” Jaconelli must keep the peace, report to probation as required, not associate with the victim, not attend any place of residence of the victim, attend and participate in counselling as required including substance abuse and personal-psychological counselling. Going against any of these orders could result in Jaconelli coming back to court and possibly losing the discharge that was granted.

Before his sentencing, Jaconelli apologized to the victim and to his fellow officers with the Chatham-Kent Police Service for any negative portrayal his actions may have had on the organization.

Chatham-Kent police have charged Jaconelli with two counts of discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act and the Professional Standards Branch has conducted more internal investigations into the matter.

Jaconelli has been suspended with pay since December 2018.

Jaconelli was additionally charged in January 2019 with another count of sexual assault related to an off-duty incident in August of 2018. On Monday, Jaconelli agreed to enter into a peace bond for a period of 12 months which requires good behaviour and not associating with the victim or attending any place of residence of the victim. Upon entering the peace bond, the charge will be marked as dropped.

Jaconelli denied criminal wrongdoing in relation to that charge but acknowledged that the situation warranted a peace bond being imposed and agreed to the conditions. A publication ban prevents any details being published that may identify the victim in the second sexual assault charge as well.