A third woman has filed a civil lawsuit accusing a former Cowichan and Kelowna RCMP officer of sexual harassment.
This third suit was filed Monday, Jan. 20 in Penticton court, and names former RCMP officer Brian Mathew Burkett, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and the Attorney General of Canada.
The suit describes events between a woman from the Cowichan Valley and Burkett, then a member of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment.
The plaintiff in the Cowichan Valley case said it began on Oct. 17, 2012, when she was run off the road by an aggressive driver, and called 911 to report the incident. In that report she provided personal details including her home address and cell number.
After speaking to 911, she got a text from an RCMP member asking her to go in to the detachment in Duncan. There, she met Burkett, who recorded her statement. According to the statement of claim, the harassment began immediately during that first meeting, with Burkett commenting “inappropriately and suggestively about the plaintiff’s appearance and body piercings”.
The statement of claim says that when she left the detachment, she was almost immediately sent more than 15 inappropriate and suggestive sexual messages by Burkett. “In addition, Burkett acted obsessively and aggressively via text in his pursuit of the plaintiff.”
In an interview with the Citizen, the plaintiff, whose name is concealed by a publication ban in the criminal case, said her experience with Burkett occurred over a one-day period, and she never replied to any of his texts, but the texts affected her very deeply.
“I was just 20 years old at the time and was terrified to know that he had my personal information, and I didn’t know what he could, or would, do,” she said.
“I was afraid to be in public or even at home. I felt vulnerable and full of anxiety. Just five months before, I had been sexually assaulted and the authorities had swept that under the rug, so I was afraid to come forward at the time.”
The plaintiff said what motivated her to file the civil claim was when she became aware that Burkett was being accused of other, similar, crimes in other jurisdictions over the years since her experience with him, and she wants to encourage anyone else who has been a victim of Burkett to come forward.
“My experience with Burkett happened in 2012 and it’s possible I could have been one of his first victims and he was testing the water to see what he could get away with,” she said.
“He has been in many other jurisdictions since them, some remote, and there could be many other victims that still haven’t come forward. I’m a much different person now, with a lot more confidence and I’m no longer afraid.”
Burkett is also being sued by two other women for sexual harassment in Penticton court for incidents when he worked as a Mountie in Kelowna. He left the RCMP in August 2017 after a woman filed a claim that he’d demanded nude photos from her.
He is also criminally accused of seven counts of breach of trust for incidents alleged to have occurred between October 2015 and August 2016. He is scheduled to have an arraignment hearing to enter a plea to those charges on Jan. 27.
The plaintiff is seeking unspecified damages.
None of the allegations in the claim have been proven in court, and none of the plaintiffs have filed a response to the claim.