2019-07-24

Bridgewater’s then-police chief disputes, denies claims of accuser in recorded statement post-2016 arrest

by Keith Corcoran

During questioning as part of a multi-hour statement following his 2016 arrest, John Collyer, Bridgewater's then-police chief, disputed and denied claims of sexual misconduct against a young girl who accuses him of sexual assault and exploitation.

July 15, day six of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court trial of Collyer, featured the recorded statement. The prosecution resumes presenting its case later this summer when the trial resumes.

Collyer, 55, of Crouses Settlement, was Bridgewater's top cop from 2011 to 2018. He's accused of touching a young girl with his hand for a sexual purpose and sexually assaulting her between May and July of 2016. His multi-day trial is being heard by Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge alone. He's pleaded not guilty to the allegations and it's anticipated he'll testify at some point during the trial in his own defence.

The now-20 year old woman, who alleges Collyer committed the offences when she was under the age of 18, was tested by the defence on her recollection of events before her testimony concluded July 12. Defence lawyer David Bright spent the better part of the day's proceedings questioning the complainant on timelines, life events, and the allegations.

The complainant, whose name prohibited from publication by court order, testified July 11 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, court was told July 11, the families of the two had enjoyed a positive relationship over a period of years.

Testimony on July 10 largely featured evidence from Gord Vail of province's independent police oversight agency - the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) - who lead the investigation into Collyer. The evidence presented centred around hundreds of social media messages exchanged between Collyer and the teenage complainant three to four years ago.

However, not all of those communications were retainable, leaving inconsistencies between the suggestive content captured in screen-grabs by the girl's mother and what Facebook produced for the investigation.

The girl's mother and a close family friend testified that suggestive communications with Collyer were found on a social media account belonging to the teen in 2016. The mother showed the content to her family physician, setting in motion an alert to the RCMP and involvement of SIRT.

Judicial authorizations were executed in relation to the case, resulting in the seizures of computer equipment. The girl also gave a statement to SIRT.

Collyer was placed on administrative leave in August 2016 after it went public that 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.

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