04/30/2012 10:57 EDT | Updated 06/30/2012 05:12 EDT

Mountie accused of sexual assault in northern Canada suspended with pay

BAKER LAKE, Nunavut - RCMP in northern Canada have laid a charge of sexual assault against an on-duty officer in Nunavut.

The alleged assault is said to have occurred two years ago in Baker Lake, but police didn't received a complaint until just a few weeks ago, said Nunavut RCMP Chief Supt. Steve McVarnock.

"The RCMP has been very aggressive since learning about the allegation in dealing with it," McVarnock said Monday. "The arrest of one of our own members is very distressing to each and every one of us, especially up here in Nunavut."

McVarnock said the accusations against four-year veteran Const. Justin Dickens were immediately handed over to RCMP in Yellowknife for a preliminary investigation.

"Very shortly thereafter we were contacted ... and we were given an update that satisfied myself that the matter should be continued on as a criminal investigation," McVarnock said.

The case was transferred to Ottawa police, who sent two detectives to Baker Lake to continue a review. The arrest of Dickens on Saturday was the result of their work.

Dickens has spent his entire career in Nunavut, first in Baker Lake and now in Whale Cove. He is currently suspended and is on administrative leave.

McVarnock released few details about the allegation. He would only say that it occurred when Dickens was on duty and that it involved a single female.

Dickens also faces an internal code of conduct inquiry under the RCMP Act.

He is to appear in court for the first time in Baker Lake on July 24.