A former sex-trade worker told court Thursday she was harassed by a Winnipeg police officer who repeatedly called her at home to see if she wanted to “hang out” and “get high.”
“I was worried if this officer was harassing me on the streets and in my home, what else could he do to me?” the 30-year-old woman testified.
Const. Remi Van Den Driessche, 42, is on trial charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, extortion, criminal harassment and breach of trust in connection with four women. A fifth alleged victim passed away following Van Den Driessche’s 2014 arrest.
The woman told court she believed she first encountered the accused in the summer of 2011 while walking home along Flora Avenue. The woman said Van Den Driessche and another officer pulled up in a cruiser and “asked me why I was out so late.”
The woman said Van Den Driessche — who was driving — asked for her address and phone number, which he entered into his cellphone before letting her go on her way.
“I didn’t think it was a big deal at the time,” she said. “I thought it was maybe in case his computer in the cruiser crashed.”
Within days, Van Den Driessche was calling her at home, the woman alleged.
“He asked me if I had any plans that evening, if I wanted to hang out with him, if I wanted to get high.”
The woman said she told him she just wanted to stay home and then hung up the phone.
The calls continued with increasing frequency, she said. She claimed Van Den Driessche and assorted partners stopped her on the street “over 100 times.”
The woman alleged the harassment continued for nearly two years, until the spring of 2013 — “probably after I told him I was going to call his supervisor and make a complaint about him.”
Under cross-examination, the woman admitted she told investigators with the professional standards unit that she was aware of allegations police officers had been harassing sex trade workers but had “never come across anything” herself and would…