|Bianca Moushoun says Quebec provincial police officers stationed in |
Val d'Or gave her beer and traded sex acts for money and cocaine.
It comes after Radio-Canada's investigative program, Enquête, uncovered stories of sexual violence toward aboriginal women in the Quebec town of 32,000. Val d'Or, about 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal, is located close to several Algonquin communities.
Speaking publicly for the first time, alleged victims told Enquête about a pattern involving the provincial police over a period of at least two decades.
They say officers routinely picked up women who appeared to be intoxicated, drove them out of town and left them to walk home in the cold. Some allege they were physically assaulted or made to perform sex acts.
Winters in northern Quebec are very cold. I would be surprised if there weren't cases of frost-bite on the feet of some of these women.
While the ages of these women were not mentioned, it is probably safe to assume that at least a few would have been minors.
|This woman, who asked not to be identified, shows a head wound she said |
was sustained in an altercation with a police officer who threw her out of his
car after she refused to perform a sex act. (Radio-Canada)
Bianca Moushoun recounted how male officers would give her beer they kept stored in the trunk of their vehicles. She said the men would later take her to a remote area.
"We went to a road in the woods, and that's where they would ask me to perform fellatio," said Moushoun. They would pay her "$100 for the service" and "$100 to keep quiet," she added.
"Sometimes they paid me in coke. Sometimes they paid me in cash, sometimes both."
She said the incidents occurred about two years ago.
Another woman, who spoke on condition her name not be used, said she was assaulted by an officer in his car on the road between Val-d'Or and Waswanipi, a Cree community about 275 kilometres northeast of the town.
"He wanted a blow job. I said no," she wrote. "He threw me out and grabbed my hair. He left me alone on the highway."
Photos of the woman, which she says were taken after that incident, show a cut above her right eye and a wound on the top of her head. Both were sustained in the altercation with the police officer, she said.
Not all 'bad apples'
Carole Marcil, a bartender at Le Manoir in Val-d'Or, has heard such stories from aboriginal women countless times. She estimates as many as 30 women in the area have had similar encounters.
"If they don't perform fellatio … they get massacred," Marcil said. The women "show up with bumps, bruises, punches and burns."
Marcil stresses "not all" provincial police officers in Val-d'Or act that way.
"There are two or three or four bad apples [among them]," Marcil said.
Since the women spoke to Enquête, some have filed formal complaints, and an internal police investigation has begun.
"Fourteen files have been opened for allegations related to the behaviour of our officers," said police spokeswoman Martine Asselin. "These are allegations, not charges for now," she added.
"All the files will be transferred to [the Crown prosecutor's office], and we'll see what happens after that," Asselin said.
About 50 officers are based at the Val-d'Or Sûreté du Québec detachment. Eight among them have been questioned by investigators, Asselin said. They remain on the job.
The investigation is being led by the force's professional standards directorate.
The investigators involved are not based in Val-d'Or, Asselin said.
At a news conference this morning, an emotional Public Safety Minister Lise Thériault announced the transfer of the investigation from Quebec provincial police to the Montreal police and suggested the government may launch an inquiry into the matter.
Quebec provincial police officers under investigation for sex abuse against aboriginal women in the community of Val-d'Or have either been put on leave or transferred to administrative duty.
The eight officers had remained on duty since the allegations were brought forward last May.