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This article was published 3/3/2011 (3282 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A former Manitoba RCMP officer blames the stress of working on a remote First Nations community for triggering a sexual assault that has cost him his career and his freedom.
Benjamin Neufeldt, 26, was sentenced Thursday to two years in jail for an on-duty attack against a 17-year-old intoxicated girl. He pleaded guilty earlier this winter to forcible confinement, sexual exploitation and invitation to sexual touching stemming from the August 2008 incident at Bloodvein First Nation, about 200 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
Neufeldt resigned following his arrest and had been free on bail living in British Columbia. A pre-sentence report reveals Neufeldt began abusing alcohol while working in the community to mask some of the horrors he witnessed — including the sudden death of a baby, the drowning of a five-year-old and the suicide of a 14-year-old.
"He felt like he was in a battle zone," Queen's Bench Justice Karen Simonsen said Thursday.
Lawyers presented an agreed statement of facts in which Neufeldt admits meeting the victim after her mother called police asking for help in removing her from a drinking party in the community. Neufeldt told the woman he would put the teen in a holding cell until she sobered up — but then took her back to his own residence instead.
Once there, Neufeldt admits locking the girl in a room and demanding she take a shower with him and perform oral sex. She refused and grabbed a set of knives in self-defence, throwing one at the officer but missing. He eventually opened the door and allowed her to escape to a nearby residence, where she reported the incident immediately.
Neufeldt was a constable with two years' experience at the time of his arrest. He is originally from Alberta and agreed to take the remote Manitoba post as part of a requirement that all new Mounties be given a northern assignment. He hoped to eventually be stationed in Alberta or British Columbia, where his fiancée lives, court was told.
Neufeldt admitted he never took advantage of employee assistance programs the RCMP offered to deal with stress and trauma. He also ignored opportunities to fly to Winnipeg, free of charge, on his days off.
"He was concerned that if he revealed weakness it would result in his northern assignment being cancelled and he wouldn't be transferred to Alberta or B.C.," said Simonsen.
The Bloodvein RCMP detachment was first established in 2007. Previously, members of Selkirk's rural detachment would routinely fly into the community to provide policing.
Simonsen said the attack has "destroyed" both the victim's and her community's trust in the police.
The Crown had asked for up to five years in prison for Neufeldt, but Simonsen said that was too high given the circumstances of the case and other precedents in Canada. She agreed with the defence request for a jail term to be served in a provincial facility.
Neufeldt spent a month in pretrial custody, which was given double-time credit of two months. That leaves him with another 22 months to serve, although he will be eligible for release much sooner. His name will also be placed on the national sex offender registry.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.