The Alberta government says it is reviewing allegations a staff member at Edmonton’s youth jail committed sexual misconduct against an adult inmate.
During a sentencing hearing this week, a woman who served part of her pre-trial custody at the Edmonton Young Offender Centre told the judge she had been sexually harassed and assaulted by a correctional employee at the facility.
Postmedia is not identifying the woman due to the nature of the allegations.
The woman claimed the harassment had been occurring for eight months and that “nothing’s been done” despite bringing her claims to the centre’s management.
The young offender centre, located next to the larger Edmonton Remand Centre in the city’s northwest, was built for youth prisoners but is sometimes used to house adults.
“The Government of Alberta takes allegations of this nature seriously and any matters related to this would be subject to an in-depth investigation process,” Alberta public safety ministry spokesperson Susan Williams said in an email. “At this point, the department is reviewing the matter.”
Toni Sinclair, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Northern Alberta, said her organization is aware of the woman’s claims and is providing support.
She said Elizabeth Fry is “exceptionally alarmed” about allegations of sexual violence in Edmonton prisons and jails.
In March, police charged a correctional program officer at the federal Edmonton Institution for Women with sexual assault, unlawful confinement and breach of trust by a public officer after an inmate reported she was forcibly detained and sexually abused last year.
The accused in that case, Peter Wolf, has a trial scheduled for June 2024.
Sinclair said correctional authorities must do more to respond to allegations.
“Just one report of institutional sexual trauma is too many,” she said in a news release. “The fact that we are aware of multiple (reports) of sexual violence at the hands of correctional staff underscores the imperative need to address these concerns right now.”