2019-10-24

Bridgewater’s former police chief convicted of sexual exploitation

by Keith Corcoran

Bridgewater's former police chief is guilty of sexual exploitation, but received a stay on the charge of sexual assault, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice ruled October 24.

The high court convicted John William Collyer, 56, of Lunenburg County's Crouses Settlement, of touching a young girl with his hand for a sexual purpose between May and July of 2016.

Collyer, who was the town's top cop between 2011 and 2018, had pleaded not guilty to the allegations and the matter went to a nine-day trial. Most of the proceedings took place in July and the trial wrapped up in September.

The young woman, now in her 20s, testified in July that Collyer touched her inappropriately and sexually assaulted her while they were in a vehicle together three years ago. He and the complainant knew each other and, the families of the two had enjoyed a positive relationship over a period of years.

Taking the stand September in his defence, Collyer denied inappropriate physical contact with the girl, who was under the age of 18 at the time. He did, however acknowledge some social media communications, sent while under the influence of alcohol, were misguided.

Collyer was placed on administrative leave by the town in August 2016 after it went public that the independent police oversight agency - the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) - was investigating his actions. He was suspended in May 2017 when word came that SIRT laid charges.

He had been a member of the Bridgewater's police force between 1990 and 2018. He rose to the rank of deputy chief in 2009 before becoming chief.

Sentencing is slated for early March.

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