TRURO, N.S. — A year-long police investigation has resulted in 13 criminal charges against a former correctional officer whose alleged assaults of inmates at a Nova Scotia prison for women are also the subject of a civil lawsuit.
Truro police say Brian Wilson faces six sexual assault charges, six charges of breach of trust and one charge of communication for the purpose of obtaining sexual services.
Police say they received a complaint in March 2019 alleging inappropriate relationships between Wilson and several female inmates at the federal Nova Institution for Women in Truro, N.S.
They say Wilson has been brought before a justice of the peace and was released on conditions. His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 12 in Truro provincial court.
It's unclear whether the complainants in the criminal case are also involved in the civil lawsuit launched last May against the Correctional Service of Canada by three women who say they were sexually assaulted.
Emma Halpern, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society for mainland Nova Scotia, called it "extremely important" that criminal charges have been laid.
"There's already a stigma around sexual assault survivors not being believed and being sort of labelled as liars," Halpern said Friday. That stigma is multiplied when the person making the allegations is an inmate, she said.
She said the charges will let the public see that the women's complaints are being taken seriously and should spark thought about the plight of incarcerated women who are allegedly abused by someone guarding them.
Halpern said she doesn't know for sure whether all of the women in the civil case are involved in the criminal complaint, however she said she does know that some of the women she has been working with over the past year were contacted by police to be told charges were being laid.
Last May, Truro Police Chief David MacNeil confirmed that his service had launched a sexual assault investigation at the Nova Institution on March 28, 2019.
The multi-level facility in Truro is one of six federal corrections facilities for women across Canada.
After the lawsuit was filed, the Correctional Service of Canada apologized for wrongly saying it called police right away when it heard allegations that a guard had sexually assaulted an inmate.
In fact, it was eventually revealed that the federal correction service waited three months to contact police while it conducted an internal investigation of alleged incidents at the Truro facility.
The service said Friday it was aware of the charges.
"CSC collaborated with police partners throughout the investigation," spokesperson Shelley Lawrence said in an email.
"The correctional officer was removed from his operational duties following the allegations and we can confirm he is no longer employed by CSC."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2020.
— By Keith Doucette in Halifax
The Canadian Press