‘This time it feels different,’ father says of ASIRT probe into Prince George RCMP

The B.C. government is bringing in Alberta’s police watchdog to investigate decades-old claims of police harassment of Indigenous girls in Prince George — along with allegations of an RCMP coverup.

Celynn Cadieux, 22, died just days before she was due to testify at an RCMP code of conduct hearing into disturbing allegations against RCMP officers in the northern B.C. city.

Now,more than 20 years after initial allegations were made, an independent investigation will be done by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, or ASIRT.

Read more: Alberta civilian police watchdog to lead probe into historical Prince George RCMP allegations

“I’ve been here before and nothing happened, but this time it feels different. So, for everyone’s sake I hope it works,” Bob Sandbach, Celynn’s father, told Global News.

The allegations date back to 2004, when Judge David Ramsay pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting Indigenous girls in Prince George, including Celynn.

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He was given a seven-year prison sentence, and died behind bars.

Click to play video: 'Whistleblower speaking out in RCMP scandal'

Whistleblower speaking out in RCMP scandal

Some of the same girls from Ramsay’s case also accused a number of RCMP officers of crimes, but were never charged.

In February, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced, “We as a province are now taking the next step, which is to have an outside independent agency do a full investigation.”

Read more: ‘Their thing is to bury it’: B.C. RCMP whistleblower speaks out

In an email ASIRT said it would be doing “a comprehensive review of the investigative materials” related to the case, and that “until we have reviewed all the materials, a timeline for our investigation cannot be provided.”

“We are mindful that an investigation needs to be both thorough and also timely,” it added.

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Click to play video: 'Outside investigators to examine historical allegations of misconduct by former Prince George RCMP officers'

Outside investigators to examine historical allegations of misconduct by former Prince George RCMP officers

Their investigation follows a scathing report by the RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, which determined “no one in a position of authority in (the BC RCMP) E-Division reasonably ensured a timely assessment of criminal misconduct or code of conduct breaches” and that no one ensured “a reasonable investigation was conducted.”

That report came after Staff Sgt. Garry Kerr filed a complaint.

Read more: Criminal probe of historical allegations about Prince George Mounties remains active: RCMP

Now retired, he said “the time has finally come.”

“I’m very pleased, but we’ll wait and see what comes out of it. I have got confidence ASIRT will do their job.”

For Sandbach, news of the ASIRT investigation is bittersweet.

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“She had a very kind and loving heart. She loved everyone and honestly everything,” he said of his daughter.

“She loved animals, always talked about maybe becoming a vet.”

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