06/22/2017 15:03 EDT | Updated 06/23/2017 21:23 EDT

Judicial Council to investigate complaints about jailing of sex assault victim

EDMONTON — Alberta's Judicial Council will investigate complaints made about a judge over the jailing of an indigenous sex assault victim.

The head of the council has received four complaints about provincial court Judge Raymond Bodnarek over his ruling that forced the homeless woman to spend time in the Edmonton Remand Centre.

The woman, who has since died, was held in 2015 to ensure that she would testify at the preliminary hearing of Lance Blanchard.

Blanchard, her attacker, was later found guilty of aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, unlawful confinement, possession of a weapon and making a death threat.

Ron Hewitt, a council spokesman, said Chief provincial court Judge Terry Matchett has decided the six-member council will deal with the complaints rather than just himself. 

"He has decided to refer it to the whole group," Hewitt said Thursday.

Alberta's Judicature Act says such a review could lead to a judicial inquiry, a reprimand, corrective measures, or no action.

Council members include Matchett, the Chief Justice of Alberta or a designate, the Chief Justice of Court of Queen's Bench or a designate and a member of the Law Society of Alberta.

Two other members include family law lawyer Marie Gordon and Patricia Makokis, an aboriginal education and health expert from the Saddle Lake Cree First Nation in northern Alberta.

Gordon and Makokis were appointed to the council by the provincial government.

Hewitt said the council would not release the specifics of the complaints or who made them.

There were no details on when the review will begin or how long it will take.

Hewitt said at some point the council will share its findings with the complainants and the public.

The sexual assault victim, originally from Maskwacis, Alta. and can't be identified, was shackled during her testimony. On at least two occasions, she had to ride in the same prisoner van as her attacker.

Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley has called the case "disturbing and tragic" and has ordered investigations into how the victim was treated.

Ganley also apologized to the woman's family.