A former Kelowna Mountie will spend nine months on house arrest after pleading guilty to one count of breach of trust for sexually harassing seven women involved in his cases.
Brain Burkett, 38, appeared in court in Kelowna on Tuesday, July 27, where Judge Michelle Danyluk handed him the conditional sentence. Burkett will serve his sentence in Alberta, where he now lives.
“Mr. Burkett used his position as a police officer to gain the introduction to the victims, obtaining their contact information and an attempt to pursue some sort of relationship with each of them,” said Danyluk.
Though unmentioned in the judge’s decision, civil suits filed by some of the complainants involved in the criminal case allege Burkett made threats of sexual assault and demanded nude photographs from the women. They also claim he sent sexually suggestive and explicit messages.
According to Danyluk, three of the women were victims in domestic abuse cases, one was a witness in a theft case, one was the subject of an arrest related to public intoxication, one the subject of a mental health wellness check, and one was the accused in a motor vehicle matter.
Danyluk said that community members should never have to worry that an officer will exploit their vulnerability for personal gratification.
“The public must feel confident that in times of crisis and need, our citizens can turn to our police officers to protect them and faithfully serve their needs,” she said, adding the high-profile nature of Burkett’s case negatively impacted the reputation of his former detachments and colleagues.
Danyluk noted that Burkett’s actions were not a single momentary lapse in judgement but a repeated pattern of conduct.
“The victims were all women who experiencing distress in their lives to varying degrees and were all in vulnerable states when subjected to Mr. Burkett’s inappropriate intentions,” she said.
Considering the mitigating factors, including his guilty plea, his demonstrated remorse and his low risk to re-offend, the judge decided to let Burkett serve his sentence in his community instead of prison.
Burkett left the RCMP in 2017 after allegations against him became public and has since entered a new line of work.
— With files from Phil McLachlan