A former Manitoba RCMP officer has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a nine-year-old girl.
Judge Lindy Choy told the court in Ashern, Man., about 200 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, she believed beyond a reasonable doubt that Robert Dowd inappropriately touched the girl at a campfire gathering on Sept. 26, 2014.
"Not only do I disbelieve his explanations, I believe his evidence to be contrived," Choy said Tuesday.
Dowd, who was off duty at the time and is no longer with the RCMP, had previously pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and sexual interference.
Court was told the girl was with her father, brother and six other people including Dowd at a campfire hosted by the accused.
During the trial, the girl – who is now 12-years-old – testified Dowd wanted to leave the campfire to look for a satellite in the sky. She said when the two were alone, he inappropriately touched her.
Dowd denied these allegations in his testimony, and initially told police he was never alone with the girl. Choy said Dowd testified he took the girl to show her where the bathroom was, and collected firewood.
"It's suspicious he never offers this explanation when speaking with police," Choy said. "I do not believe his denial, that he was not alone with the complainant and he did not touch the complainant inappropriately."
The girl's father said the verdict is a relief.
"I feel very happy today with the outcome that was given by the judge," he said outside court. "It's been a rough three years. Finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel."
Another family member said they're very proud of the girl for testifying.
"Kudos to her," the family member said. "She didn't run and hide. She came forward and told us everything. There's justice for her."
Dowd's lawyer Bruce Bonney declined to comment after the verdict. Dowd is scheduled to be sentenced this fall.