Retired RCMP officer accused of sexually assaulting girl testifies in retrial

WINNIPEG — > WARNING: The details in this article may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised.

A retired Manitoba RCMP officer charged with sexual assault and sexual interference testified Thursday in a retrial.

Robert Dowd, now 61, was previously found guilty on both charges but the Manitoba Court of Appeal quashed the convictions last year and ordered a new trial on both counts.

Dowd, who’s pleaded not guilty to inappropriately touching a 9-year-old girl at a Manitoba campground, took the witness stand Thursday and denied allegations.

Images presented in court show an open field with a camper and motorhome parked near each other which served as a campground in the Interlake.

Court heard on Sep. 26, 2014, neighbours and friends gathered in the area for a bonfire on a cold and windy night.

The host that night was Dowd, an RCMP officer and owner of the motorhome. Dowd, who was off-duty, testified he and a friend lit a fire and several people attended.

Among those in attendance were a 9-year-old girl, her older brother and their father, a family Dowd told court he had just met for the first time earlier that evening.

In a videotaped statement taken one day after the bonfire, the girl told police officers she was alone with Dowd on a road near the campsite.

“He wanted to go look for a satellite in the sky,” the girl told an officer in the video, which was played in court on Monday.

“He was like pointing to the sky trying to look for one but he was like kind of holding me because he said he was trying to keep me warm or something. And then he just stuck his hand down my pants.”

In her testimony on Monday, the girl who’s now 15 and can’t be identified, told court what she told police that day is true.

Dowd testified he went stargazing with the girl and told court the girl’s brother and another woman were with also with them.

“While you were stargazing, did you touch the children?” defence lawyer Rachel Wood asked Dowd.

“No,” Dowd testified.

“Did you touch her in any way?” Wood asked.

“No,” Dowd told court.

During cross-examination the Crown suggested there was a discrepancy between a portion of Dowd’s testimony and a videotaped statement he gave to police, two days after the offence is alleged to have occurred.

Dowd testified Thursday he was kneeling about a foot or foot and a half behind the children with his arms extended at an angle while pointing up at the sky. 

Sivananthan Sivarouban, a Crown attorney, showed Dowd multiple gestures he made in the videotaped statement and suggested it showed his arms were extended straight out and around the kids. Dowd testified he disagrees.

“Maybe 45 degrees but they were not parallel,” Dowd told court. “I’m pointing to the stars. My hands are up.”

Dowd was previously sentenced in February 2018 to one year in custody.

The Court of Appeal ordered the retrial after ruling Dowd’s credibility as a witness was unfairly assessed during his previous trial.

The retrial continues. 

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