British Columbia

Tim Shields, former spokesman for B.C. RCMP, charged with sex assault

Criminal Justice Branch says alleged victim was a civilian employee of the national police force

RCMP Officer Suspended 20150602

Tim Shields, seen here in April 2010, was suspended in May 2015 and retired in December that year. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

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Tim Shields, a former spokesman for the RCMP in British Columbia, has been charged with sex assault.

According to a statement released by the Criminal Justice Branch, the criminal charge has been approved against the former Mountie as a result of an investigation into sexual misconduct alleged to have occurred between 2009 and 2010.

At the time of the alleged incident, Shields was the officer in charge of strategic communications at E division headquarters. The complainant was a civilian employee with the RCMP.

The single charge of sexual assault was sworn in B.C. provincial court today. Shields is scheduled to appear in court on June 27.

The RCMP suspended Shields in May of 2015. He retired from the force in December 2015.

Shields's lawyer, David Butcher, told CBC News his client is devastated.

"He absolutely denies the allegations, which have been under investigation for several years," said Butcher. "Mr Shields has successfully passed a polygraph test taken by a reputable examiner....  As the matter is now before the court, we will not be making any further comment."

Faces 2 other claims of sexual harassment

Shields, who is being sued for sexual harassment by two former civilian co-workers, has denied all the allegations against him.

According to their notices of civil claim, one of the complainants alleges Shields touched her in a sexual manner and tried to undress her, confined her in a washroom and forced her to touch him in an inappropriate manner, and exposed himself to her between 2009 and 2011.

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Shields, the former spokesman for the B.C. RCMP, is also facing two separate sexual harassment lawsuits. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

She also claims he sent her text messages seeking a sexual relationship and verbally sexually harassed her.

The other complainant, who has filed a separate lawsuit, alleges Shields abused his position of authority over her to commit acts of sexual assault.

She alleged that in 2003 while driving to the B.C. Interior with Shields he made unwanted sexual advances toward her.

She also claimed Shields exposed himself to her in 2008 in a police car.

None of the civil or criminal charges against Shields have been proven in court.

RCMP response

The commanding officer of the RCMP in B.C., Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens issued a statement in response to the charge filed today.

"Charges of this nature against a police officer are disturbing and are even more so that it is alleged to have occurred in our headquarters," Callens said.

"As the commanding officer, I would emphasize that the RCMP pursued this investigation as it would any serious criminal matter, regardless that the suspect was a senior police officer. All internal processes were pursued in this file."

Callens said the RCMP was made aware of the allegations in 2013 as a result of one of the civil claims filed against Shields and a subsequent code of conduct investigation. But he said at the time, there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the investigation.

That changed in 2014 when "significant new information became available." Callens said an investigative team was formed consisting of professional standards and major crime investigators who utilized "major case principles" to pursue the allegations.

18-year RCMP career

In court documents filed in response to the civil claims, Shields cited the 18 years he spent as an RCMP officer.
He outlined an exemplary police career including multiple awards for selfless service and thousands of media interviews that made him the public face of the RCMP in B.C.

He came to national prominence in part during an inquiry into Vancouver airport Taser death of Robert Dziekanski at the hands of RCMP officers. Shields apologized at the time on behalf of the force for inaccurate information that misled the public about the death of the Polish immigrant.

Shields appears to be the most high-level Mountie to be charged criminally with sexual assault following a flood of allegations in recent years about harassment in the force.

Many female mounties came forward with their own stories after Cpl. Catherine Galliford focused national attention on the issue in 2011 when she claimed to have post-traumatic stress disorder due to her experiences.

She recently reached an out of court settlement with the RCMP.

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