(Black Press files)

RCMP recruits ‘deeply afraid’ to speak out about alleged sex abuse: Lawyer

Halifax police spokeswoman Carol McIsaac said force has received 50 complaints from both men, women

Two RCMP doctors under police investigation allegedly abused their power over vulnerable young recruits who were “deeply afraid” that speaking out would damage their careers in the national police force, a lawyer who represents RCMP sexual-misconduct victims says.

Megan McPhee, a principal with a Toronto-based law firm serving as counsel in a class-action lawsuit, said women have come forward with similar stories about sexual misconduct during medical examinations by RCMP physicians in Nova Scotia and Ontario.

“The issues we’re hearing with respect to the Halifax doctor are arising very early in the employment, when there is a potential power imbalance between a doctor and a woman who is trying to fulfil her dream of becoming an RCMP officer,” she said. “Women simply don’t feel comfortable coming forward because they’re so deeply afraid of the impact that speaking out could have on their careers.”

The Halifax doctor, nicknamed Dr. Fingers, has been accused of inappropriate and unnecessary vaginal and rectal examinations, while the Toronto doctor was particularly focused on women’s nipples, McPhee said.

“We’re hearing from claimants about common practices and nicknames for both a doctor in Halifax and one in Toronto,” she said.

The complainants don’t believe there was any medical necessity to some of the examinations, she said.

“For example, an allegation of a woman having a prostate exam,” McPhee said. ”Other women have expressed having their breasts fondled for lengthy periods of time and it’s difficult to ascribe any sort of medical necessity to that sort of examination.”

The allegations against the doctors mirror widespread complaints about sexual harassment in the force that led the federal court to approve a landmark settlement last May.

The claims also reflect a broader societal reckoning with male predatory behaviour that has sparked the Me Too movement and toppled powerful men accused of sexual misconduct.

“There are lots of organization where their history and their structure may be set up to enable the sort of things we’ve heard described here, which is the Old Boys Club,” McPhee said. “For us to see change going forward we need to address the Old Boys Club.”

She added: “One of the fundamental goals of the settlement, particularly for the class members, is to shine a light on the harassment that has occurred and to address and prevent future harassment so that we don’t see a recurrence. We’re working to make the force a safer place for the generations of women to come.”

Halifax police spokeswoman Carol McIsaac said Friday the force has now received 50 complaints from both men and women against a retired doctor in the Halifax suburb of Bedford.

Toronto police investigating sexual assault allegations against a retired doctor in the RCMP’s Ontario division would only confirm Friday that they have received “more than one” complaint.

“We will not confirm any details of the allegations that have been brought to our attention except to say that they are historic incidents,” Meaghan Gray with the Toronto Police Service said. ”Any allegation is being investigated thoroughly and charges will be laid, if appropriate.”

McPhee said her law firm has noticed a “significant increase” in the number of women coming forward to share their stories ahead of the class action settlement deadline of Feb. 8.

Some of the allegations are “quite disturbing,” she said.

“For some it can be very freeing to be sharing a story with somebody, in some cases for the very first time,” McPhee said. “For many of the claimants, filing a claim can be very traumatic because they are reliving and revisiting traumatic events that they may have compartmentalized or buried so that they could try to deal with their everyday lives and be able to function.”

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Police call off search for body under Agassiz Rosedale Bridge

Swimmers reported discovering body two days ago

Garbage truck and van collide on 6 Ave.

No serious injuries in mid-day collision

A man around town: Trevor McDonald

If it’s musical or entertaining and in Chilliwack, Trevor McDonald’s probably had a hand in it

Dew worm races back at 2nd annual Ryder Lake Summer Fair

The Fair is back for the second year after a lengthy hiatus

Five calls on local highways, mountains for Hope rescue squad

Injured hikers, injured motorists and one casualty has Hope SAR team busy

BC Games: Opening Ceremony from Laketown Ranch

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

B.C. city wants pot punted from farmland

Concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

U.S president had suggested that auto imports pose a national security risk to the U.S.

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

Recent online kitten abuse video raises serious social media questions

UBC and UFV profs weigh in on the subject of online sharing, shaming, and our digital landscape

UPDATED: ICBC fights back against claims that it’s ‘ripping off’ B.C. RV drivers

Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging the provincial government to open up ICBC to competition

Summerland issues State of Local Emergency in response to wildfire

Two homes under evacuation order; evacuation alert remains in place as result of wildfire

Most Read