Vancouver police officer found guilty in sexual assault case involving colleague
Warning: Some details revealed in court may be disturbing to readers.
VANCOUVER -- A police officer has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a female colleague two years ago.
Jagraj Roger Berar, a member of the Vancouver Police Department, learned of the decision in a North Vancouver courtroom Wednesday.
The 51-year-old resident of Surrey had denied an assault took place in a hotel suite in Whistler in July 2019, claiming the sexual activity was consensual.
In her reasons, Judge Joanne Challenger found the victim was too drunk to consent to sex and said that as a police officer with some experience with sexual assault cases, Berar should have understood that.
The victim was not in court Wednesday, but had sexual assault advocates there on her behalf, including Lee Whidden, an active-duty law enforcement officer.
“She is just so elated and can’t stop crying because she’s trying to process it all,” Whidden said outside court. “It’s all been such a long journey that it takes such a toll on your mental and physical health.”
During Berar’s trial, the court heard the victim was inebriated to the point of losing consciousness. She took the stand on the first day, and told the judge and others present that she and other VPD officers had been staying in the resort town as some of them took part in a golf tournament.
She said she was one of several officers drinking alcohol in a suite rented by a colleague. The group went on to a hotel bar, then tried to get into a nightclub, but their entry was denied.
The victim said she and others went back to Berar's hotel suite, and that she threw up in the bathroom. When she came back to the living room, everyone but Berar had gone to bed.
She told the court she blacked out and only remembered parts of the night, and at one point she came to and found Berar performing oral sex on her.
She testified that she told Berar to stop, then got dressed and drove home to Squamish. She later reported the assault.
Challenger said she found the victim to be credible, but she said Berar was careless with easily verifiable facts, was deceitful and fabricated his version of events.
The judge based those findings off of his police statement, his testimony in court, and video from an undercover sting in which the victim arranged a meeting with him and questioned him about what happened that night.
“I think it takes a lot of bravery, courage, conviction and integrity to come forward,” said sexual assault advocate Susan Rabichuk, a former police officer. “Especially when we live in a culture where victims are often blamed and not believed.”
Video played in court earlier in the trial showed the meeting between the victim and Berar, during which she asks him to "fill the gaps" in her memory.
Berar claimed the victim cuddled up to him on the sofa bed in the suite, which he took as a sign for sex, and can be heard telling her it was a "one off," as he's married.
The judge rejected his version of events.
Berar has been suspended from the VPD since 2019, pending the outcome of the trial.
The judge has ordered a psychological assessment to determine Berar’s likelihood to commit other sexual offences.
Once that is complete, a date will be set for a sentencing hearing.
As he left the courtroom, with his lawyers and a woman at his side, Berar said nothing in response to questions about what he thought of the guilty verdict and if he’d like to say anything to his victim.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Travis Prasad