Wiky chief of police to plead not guilty to sexual assault charge

Terry McCaffrey

Police board names acting chief of police

WIIKWEMKOONG—Following Wednesday’s press release from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), which stated that it had laid one charge of sexual assault against Wikwemikong Tribal Police Services (WTPS) Chief of Police Terry McCaffrey, an acting chief of police has been named by the police board. Mr. McCaffrey’s lawyer has also issued a statement to this newspaper which names his client as not guilty in the charge against him.

As was reported Wednesday on Manitoulin.com, in 2020, the OPP received an allegation from an individual who said they had been the victim of sexual assault in 2019. As a result of the investigation, members of the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch charged Mr. McCaffrey, aged 44 of Manitowaning, with sexual assault, contrary to section 271 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Mr. McCaffrey joined WTPS as chief of police in July 2018 and was officially sworn in two months later, continuing a lengthy career in law enforcement. He is originally from Pimichikamak (Cross Lake) in northern Manitoba and has worked with several Indigenous police services across Canada.

Prior to coming to Manitoulin Island, he served as a detachment commander with Treaty Three Police Service in Northwestern Ontario.

In a notice from WTPS board president Sue-Ann Oshkabewisens, she noted the WTPS board, “has issued a notice of suspension with pay to Chief of Police Terry McCaffrey, effective January 27, 2021. The suspension stems from Police Chief McCaffrey being charged with one count of sexual assault contract to s. 271 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The suspension will remain in effect until final disposition of the criminal charge against him.”

Ms. Oshkabewisens also explained that Staff Sergeant Greg Mishibinijima has been appointed as acting chief of police. “The board will continue to meet to make a decision regarding the appointment of an interim chief of police,” the president added.

“As always, the board remains committed to ensuring that the services provide safe and effective policing to the people of Wiiwkemkoong Unceded Territory,” Ms. Oshkabewisens continued. “Due to the fact that this matter is now before the courts, the board will not be making any further comment at this time.”

Peter Thorning of the law firm Brauti Thorning LLP is Mr. McCaffrey’s counsel, who issued the following statement on behalf of his client: “Mr. McCaffrey is presumed innocent and will be pleading not guilty to these allegations. We will be vigorously defending this matter and look forward to the truth coming out in a court of law.”

“I received the press statement today from the OPP regarding charges against Police Chief Terry McCaffrey,” Wiikwemkoong Ogimaa Duke Peltier told The Expositor following news of the charge last week. “Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory respects the process set out by the OPP and the justice system in bringing this matter to the courts. We support the Wiikwemkoong Tribal Police Services Board and the Wiikwemkoong Tribal Police Services as they continue to provide policing services to our community. We believe that justice will prevail.”

Police remind everyone that victims of sexual assault are not alone. If you need support or know of someone who does, there are local resources available to help, such as Manitoulin Family Resources’ 24-hour emergency shelter and counselling service at 705-377-5160 or the Island’s Sexual and Domestic Violence Services clinic at 705-368-1369. If it’s an emergency, dial 9-1-1.

If anyone has information regarding this investigation, they are urged to call the OPP non-emergency number at 1-888-310-1122 or, if they wish to remain anonymous, contact CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.