A Kenora OPP officer will face trial in the U.S. for allegedly sexually abusing three Indigenous girls at a resort on the Bois Forte Indian Reservation in Minnesota.
A federal grand jury formally indicted Brady John Hillis, 32, last week in connection with complaints made by girls aged seven, nine and 12 while they vacationed with their parents at the Fortune Bay Resort Casino in 2018.
Hillis is charged with U.S. federal crimes including aggravated sexual abuse of a child under 12, which carries a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison.
Hillis made his initial court appearance in Minnesota on Friday, acting U.S. Attorney W. Anders Folk said in a statement.
In June, Hillis lost a bid in Ontario’s Court of Appeal to see the decision by Canadian officials to surrender him to the U.S reviewed.
Hillis has been on suspension from the OPP under the requirements of Ontario’s Police Services Act.
The alleged abuse happened in the span of about an hour on June 22, 2018, according to court documents.
Hillis is accused of offering the nine-year-old girl money in exchange for touching her at an arcade.
The seven-year-old alleged he abused her at a resort pool, court documents said.
The incidents were first reported to resort security, who called police. Eventually, the FBI handled the case. Hillis was released, allowed to return to Canada and he immediately notified his OPP superiors, the appeals court said.
Bid to have surrender order reviewed fails
Canada’s justice minister ordered him to surrender for extradition in May 2020. Hillis initially fought the application on the grounds it was an abuse of process but a judge dismissed it.
He then sought to have the justice minister’s decision reviewed, arguing the sentence he could receive in the U.S. was out of line with what he’d get in Canada, where the maximum sentence for sexual interference is 14 years.
While that charge does technically carry a one-year mandatory minimum, it has been struck down by the courts as being in violation of the Canadian charter of rights.
As well, Hillis raised concerns about being subjected to what’s called “civil commitment” in the U.S., where the state can indefinitely detain mentally ill sex offenders after their sentences end on the grounds they are “sexually dangerous to others.”
However, the Canadian government said it was given assurances the U.S. would not invoke the civil commitment procedure for Hillis and he’d be sent back to Canada.
As well, the U.S. said it wouldn’t object to Hillis or the Canadian government requesting he be transferred back to Canada to serve the balance of his sentence, as long as it’s made two years before it ends.
The appeals court found the minister’s decision to extradite Hillis was reasonable, despite the potential disparities in penalties between the two countries.
“The minister was well aware of the nature and extent of the disparity and of its importance to his surrender decision. He took steps to obtain assurances to reduce that disparity,” Justice David Watt wrote.
No trial dates have been set in Hillis’ case and he is presumed innocent.
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