(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

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Port Alberni care homes benefit from funding to purchase new safety equipment

Echo Village and Fir Park Village will be receiving $32,500 each

Uchucklesaht Tribe purchases former Redford School

Property will be a “multi-use building” similar to The Thunderbird

Merry Makers create new craft fair for Port Alberni

Hansen Hall fair begins as Work of Heart organizers retire

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

‘This is gangster,’ bait car thief declares on video

Footage from Abbotsford gains attention on social media

B.C. to fund gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people

Roughly 100 people in B.C. travel each year out of province for lower surgeries

U.S. mayor and dying dog’s roadtrip to B.C. goes viral

First vacation in three years came a month after blood cancer diagnosis

Federal fall update expected to offer more support for struggling news industry

Ottawa committed $50 million over five years for local journalism in ‘underserved communities’ last budget

UK’s May appeals to public on Brexit, braces for more blows

British Prime Minister Theresa May answered questions from callers on a radio phone-in, the day after she vowed to stay in office

UPDATED: $136M in transit funding coming to B.C.

The announcement was made at the BC Transit yard in Langford on Friday morning

Ottawa apologizes to Japanese family in B.C. after chopping historic cherry trees

Plaque installed in Prince Rupert to honour the memory of Shotaro Shimizu

Two B.C. police officers, held in Cuba for months, cleared of sex assault allegations

Port Moody Const. Jordan Long and Vancouver Const. Mark Simms have been in Cuba since March

Most Read