A Canada Border Services agent has been charged with using his position of authority to repeatedly sexually assault a woman who was scheduled to be deported.
The allegations come on the heels of calls by refugee and immigrant rights advocates for better oversight of the CBSA following the deaths of two detainees in the agency's care in March and the recent revelation that the agency held a Syrian teenager in solitary confinement for weeks.
Police arrested 55-year-old Quebec resident Carie Dexter Willis in Montreal on April 1 and brought him back to Halifax, where the assaults allegedly happened in 2003. The events were first reported to police on November 24, 2014, and their investigation has been ongoing since then.
Though police have been investigating Willis for the last year and a half, the Canada Border Services Agency confirmed to VICE News that the man is still a CBSA employee. Pressed for details about his job status, the agency would not say whether he was on paid leave or was working out of a CBSA office after the allegations were first reported to police.
Willis faces three charges — one count each of sexual assault, breach of trust and extortion.
The allegations stem back to 2003, when Willis worked at the Halifax CBSA office. A 26-year-old woman was scheduled to be deported in June of that year. Halifax Police would not give exact dates, but said it's alleged Willis used his authority as a border services employee to sexually assault and extort the woman on more than one occasion in Dartmouth that year. Police would not say where the assaults allegedly took place.
Willis has never been incarcerated or faced charges previously in Nova Scotia.
A Halifax Police spokesperson declined to say where the woman was scheduled to be deported to as it could potentially identify the complainant, whose name is under publication ban.
The CBSA came under fire in March after two detainees died in their care while being held at detention centres in Ontario. The agency also faced criticism in February for holding a Syrian teenager in solitary confinement for weeks in a Toronto detention centre. Several human rights groups, including the Canadian Council for Refugees, have called for an independent ombudsman to oversee complaints against the agency.
The CBSA told VICE News the agency is fully cooperating with police on the sexual assault case.
"Once the police investigation is complete, appropriate action is taken," CBSA spokesperson Esme Bailey told VICE News in an email. "Any employee who violates the strict standards of conduct may face disciplinary action up to and including termination."
"This matter involves a single CBSA employee and in no way compromises the integrity and professionalism of thousands of CBSA employees who carry out their duties in an exemplary manner," Bailey added.
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