Manitoba RCMP officer admits to referring to teen girl as ‘jailbait’

Manitoba RCMP officer admits to referring to teen girl as ‘jailbait’

The social media exchange included ‘inappropriately sexually suggestive comment made to a minor’ from a Manitoba RCM officer.

Manitoba RCMP officer

Manitoba RCMP Const. Stephan Shewchuk admitted to three counts of discreditable conduct dating back to 2020.

A Manitoba RCMP officer admitted to discreditable conduct including calling a 17-year-old girl “jailbait” in a message he sent to her on Instagram after pulling over her vehicle.

The officer, Const. Stephan Shewchuk from the Portage la Prairie division, sat with his legs shaking on Tuesday, during the first day of an RCMP disciplinary hearing in Winnipeg.

Shewchuk, a seven-year member of the force, has admitted to three counts of discreditable conduct dating back to 2020. He is currently suspended with pay, but faces further disciplinary action.

He later followed one of the female passengers in the car, a 17-year-old girl, on Instagram, telling her she looked familiar. She responded that he had pulled her over.

He replied, “Driver was only 18 so how old are you lol?” adjudicator Louise Morel, who is the conduct board for this case, said while reading the messages aloud Tuesday.

“I’m 17 lol,” the girl wrote.

Shewchuk responded “Ah hah oh jailbait lol.”

“Lol yeah,” the teen said.

The officer followed by asking her if she was turning 18 that year or the next year.

“This was an inappropriately sexually suggestive comment made to a minor,” Morel said after agreeing the officer’s actions discredited the force.

“Police officers have a duty to protect youth and make them safe at all times. He failed to do that.”

This incident wasn’t the first time Shewchuk had engaged in such behaviour, the hearing was told.

During an earlier traffic stop, on Oct. 20, 2020, he gave a female driver a warning for speeding. He later sent that driver a message on Instagram, saying she looked familiar and asking where he knew her from.

Morel said following Shewchuk’s Instagram interaction with the 17-year-old, she blocked the officer on the social media platform.

Officer apologizes to women

Barry Benkendorf, a lawyer for the federal Department of Justice, told the hearing on Tuesday that “after finding out she was 17, he still pursued her, and it’s clear that the overall intent here was sexual in nature.”

Giving his testimony on the second day of the hearing, the officer apologized to both women and said his “jailbait” message was “horrible” and “derogatory.”

“I was using social media to reach out to random people, primarily women, for some form of human connection or friendly positive communication,” he said.

“I do realize that adding random people on Instagram or chatting with people on TikTok is not the healthiest method now. At the time, it was my only connection to the outside world.”

He cred while explaining several triggering events that led to him having poor mental health, including a breakup, being investigated by Manitoba’s police watchdog in 2019 for another code of conduct matter and being lonely during the pandemic.

Shewchuk detailed three high-risk events he was involved in before texting the women.

Fighting back tears, he said all of that together put him at a low point and later caused him to have a panic attack in a Sobeys parking lot, which is when he finally got help.

Shewchuk admitted to breaching the RCMP’s social media policy by putting his badge number in his username and being easily identifiable as a member of the force.

The hearing heard he was pictured with his son in his profile picture on the platform, and had the user name Stephan_lights_and_sirens_61781_.

Benkendorf, who is the prosecutor in the hearing, said while he didn’t want to take away from the officer’s remarks, he pointed out that nowhere in his testimony did he deal with the fact that he was a 30-year-old police officer pursuing young girls.

“As an adult male, he is going after young girls. I have a 17-year-old daughter. I can tell you that if a 30-year-old male attempted to pick her up, I’d be very upset,” the lawyer said.

“To find out that person was a person in a position of trust, like a police officer, would be doubly upsetting.”

Benkendorf said the behaviour cannot be tolerated and asked for Shewchuk to be dismissed from the force or resign within 14 days.

The hearing continued today.

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