A B.C. lawyer hired by the RCMP for an internal hearing for a Mountie accused of sexually harassing and assaulting two female colleagues in the late 1990s says she was surprised a senior RCMP official was brought in to resolve the issue.
"I was stunned, absolutely stunned. And I remember thinking, like what are you doing here? Why are you here? And I was actually, to be honest with you, angry," said Jennifer McCormick.
The two female officers who complained had worked for Staff Sgt. Robert Blundell on undercover investigations in Calgary between 1994 and 1997.
In 2001, McCormick was brought in by the RCMP to prosecute Blundell after he was acquitted in the first RCMP internal hearing into his conduct. At that hearing, involving one of four female complainants, Blundell denied he had assaulted the woman in any way.
As a second hearing involving two other complainants was about to get underway, McCormick said the RCMP's then-superintendant Peter German unexpectedly flew in to Calgary to help negotiate a deal.
German got Blundell to admit to "discreditable conduct," which included "touching private areas" on top of the clothing of one of the women and "grabbing" the breast of another.
Blundell was ordered to take counselling and docked one day's time-off.
But the deal was controversial and a review was done by then-superintendent Ian Atkins, who wrote a 114-page report.
Atkins told The Fifth Estate that German had a lot of credibility and experience. But Atkins said he wasn't happy with how the issue was settled.
"The two complainants would say 'Absolutely no, it was not helpful to justice.' I believe that the outcome was lighter than it should have been," he said.
Atkins said had he conducted a hearing and believed the accused officer, Blundell, was dishonest, "I would seriously consider dismissal."
Two of the complainants have told The Fifth Estate that they were let down by how the RCMP handled the case.
"That seems to be the way of the RCMP, that's kind of like the toothless tiger. There's never any accountability," said Victoria Cliffe, one of the four complainants.
Cliffe, who still works for the RCMP on Vancouver Island, said the hearings failed her and the other women. She said the experience struck deep in her fundamental beliefs as a police officer.
"There's nothing that's changed here that's going to change what happened to me or is going to help change or ... will happen to anybody tomorrow. Everything that failed in our process is still there to fail again. There's nothing to change that."
But new RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson has promised big changes to the way the force's members are disciplined.