(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

Canada has enough pipelines to get the moon

Pipelines totalling 840,000 kilometres run across Canada

Christmas craft beer show coming to Victoria

50 breweries will be featured in the third annual Christmas Craft Beer Show

Canadian university profs are getting older and working longer

New statistics also show more women in Canadian university faculties

West Shore parents want $10-a-day daycare pilot at other centres

Some parents want pilot funding going towards families in financial need

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh proposes new approach to tackling opioid crisis

Singh says the government should look at harm reduction rather than punishment

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Migrants streaming into Tijuana, but now face long stay

U.S. border inspectors are processing about 100 asylum claims a day at the main border crossing with San Diego

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

One month after legalization, illicit cannabis shops doing brisk business

When asked what has changed since Canada legalized on Oct. 17, one staffer said: “We’re just busier.”

Hunter who saved B.C. man pinned inside smashed truck says ‘God was sending me to him’

Sayward man describes chance discovery of Duncan Moffat, 23, in northern Vancouver Island woods

Road-weary Canucks thumped 6-2 by Wild

Vancouver hosts the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday

Toronto private school didn’t report alleged sexual assault to police

Police say a sexual assault at an all-boys Catholic institution was not reported to them

China says butt out; Canada calls for release of “arbitrarily” detained Muslims

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman accused Canada’s envoy of going beyond their diplomatic roles

Harsh storms have nearly tripled power outages in last five years, BC Hydro says

More frequent and severe storms have damaged Hydro’s electrical systems since 2013

Most Read