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RCMP settles sex harassment suit with Catherine Galliford

Cpl. Catherine Galliford, whose allegations of sexual harassment in the RCMP sparked widespread attention, has accepted a settlement that ends a four-year legal battle with the national force.

Former spokeswoman went public about her allegations with CBC News

May 2012 civil suit was against four officers, an RCMP doctor, the Attorney General of Canada and B.C.'s justice minister 1:36

Cpl. Catherine Galliford, whose allegations of sexual harassment in the RCMP sparked widespread attention, has accepted a settlement that ends a four-year legal battle with the national force. 

The former high-profile British Columbia spokeswoman for the force first went public with her claims of long-term sexual harassment over two decades with the RCMP on the CBC in November 2011. That opened up a flood of similar complaints. 

Galliford was the spokeswoman for the RCMP on many high-profile cases, including the Air India investigation and the Robert Pickton case. (CBC)

In May 2012, Galliford filed a civil suit against four officers, an RCMP doctor, the Attorney General of Canada, which oversees the RCMP, and B.C.'s justice minister.

She has reached settlements with the officers, the Attorney General of Canada and B.C.'s justice minister.

But all complaints against Dr. Ian MacDonald have been dropped. 

​Galliford was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after what she said were years of harassment from her colleagues. She said she has been unable to work for the last 10 years and finds it difficult to leave home.  

Trial had been set for 2017 

In February, Galliford wrote to Ralph Goodale, the new minister of public safety, saying, "I have been off duty sick from my workplace due to ongoing harassment, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation."

She said she was "an extremely professional, compassionate and capable police officer until I developed health issues due to the ongoing misogyny, harassment, lying and both criminal and sexual corruption which I observed within an organization which I once revered."

Galliford was awaiting an eight-week trial in early 2017 after a postponement from early 2015. The letter to Goodale said, "I [went] through 11 legal discoveries in rooms full of lawyers (for the various defendants) asking me about my sex life, my childhood, my high school boyfriends, my parental upbringing and whether or not I had my uniform altered to make it 'tighter.'"

Galliford spoke to the CBC in November 2011 about what she said were years of sexual harassment from some of her colleagues. (CBC)

Galliford said she lost everything by complaining.

"I have lost my home, I have paid my lawyer a quarter of a million dollars. I cannot trust Commissioner [Bob] Paulson or anyone in senior management.… Commissioner Paulson has done nothing to fix a culture which cannot be fixed." 

In March, mediation efforts first begun in 2015 were renewed and the settlement came out of that. 

Galliford's lawyer Barry Carter, who has won other cases against the RCMP, told CBC he is "satisfied with the result. The matter has been resolved satisfactorily."

The details of the settlement cannot be revealed under the terms of the agreement.

May never work again

Galliford said it was impossible to put a price tag on everything she says she endured. She will get a medical discharge on May 13. She completed 25 years with the RCMP, but may never be able to work again. 

"Because of the PTSD I still struggle with multi-tasking and I struggle with short-term memory loss, and until I get some help I can't focus on a future career."

Galliford said it's all still sinking in. 

"It's been such a long battle, I am still stuck in that fight or flight mode, and I haven't quite processed everything."

RCMP declined to comment

The RCMP told CBC News on Monday that it will not be commenting on the settlement.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson came to the top job soon after Galliford went public with her allegations. He promised that dealing with harassment would be a priority.

Paulson took on the top job with the force in 2011 soon after Galliford went public. He said he would make it a priority to deal with harassment in the force and get "rid of the bad apples."

Changes were made, but those who allege harassment say they became targeted for speaking out. The rules have been tightened and Mounties face code-of-conduct inquiries if they speak out. 
 
Several other women have filed individual sexual harassment claims against the RCMP. Over 400 are part of a class-action lawsuit that has yet to be certified, most of whom went public after Galliford told her story.