British Columbia

B.C. Mountie alleges years of sexual harassment

CBC News has learned that one of B.C.'s highest profile Mounties says she's suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after years of sexual harassment.

WARNING: this story contains graphic details

RCMP harassment allegations

12 years ago
Duration 3:59
One of B.C.'s highest profile Mounties says she's suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after years of sexual harassment.

CBC News has learned that one of B.C.'s highest profile Mounties says she's suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after years of sexual harassment.

Cpl. Catherine Galliford was the face of the B.C. RCMP for years. During her tenure as the RCMP's spokesperson, Galliford announced the arrest of Robert William Pickton and revealed charges had been laid in the Air India bombing.

But in an internal RCMP complaint, Galliford makes serious allegations about misconduct inside the RCMP. She shared the complaint with CBC News and spoke with reporter Natalie Clancy about her claims.

"Everything that came out of his [a supervisor's] mouth was sexual," Galliford said. "If I had a dime for every time one of my bosses asked me to sit on his knee, I'd be on a yacht in the Bahamas right now."

Galliford says she faced constant sexual advances from several senior officers from the moment she graduated from the RCMP Academy in 1991.

He 'pulled out an appendage'

She outlines years of harassment in a 115-page internal complaint that the RCMP has yet to respond to, including allegations a supervisor on the Missing Women's Task Force lied to colleagues when he said they were intimate and that he even exposed himself to her.

Catherine Galliford, seen in a file photo talking about the Robert Pickton case. (CBC)

"He said, 'I have something to show you' ... and pulled out an appendage. He wanted to show me his mole because he wanted to know if I thought it was cute," she said.

"I said, 'Let's go back to the office. We're late. Put it back in your pants.'"

According to Galliford, a supervisor on the Air India Task Force was even more direct.

"One of my bosses kept trying to be intimate with me throughout my time on Air India and kept on taking me on the road trying to have sex with me," she said.

"We don't have any new information to share with the Air India families right now, so why are we going on this trip? And no one said anything, but it was because he wanted to give the perception that we were a couple."

'I completely broke'

Galliford says the command and control structure at the RCMP means Mounties are instructed to do as they're told, or risk getting reprimanded.

This 115-page internal RCMP complaint outlines Galliford's allegations. (CBC)

"If they can't screw you, they are going to screw you over. And that's what it became like and so I started to normalize the harassment because I didn't know what else to do," she said.

"It just got to the point that after I had about 16 years of service, I broke. I completely broke."

In 2007, Galliford joined the ranks of 225 B.C. Mounties who are currently off duty on sick leave.

"I've been off work for four years now and I have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia and chemical dependency on occasion," Galliford said.

"I was drinking too much to try to bring myself down. I'm not ashamed of that, by the way, because it's like — walk a mile in my shoes."

Now, the woman who once confidently faced hundreds of reporters is afraid to leave her home.

'Culture of fear'

Mike Webster, a consulting police psychologist in private practice, believes Galliford's deteriorating health has little to do with the murder files she worked on, and is directly linked to the harassment she faced from colleagues on the job.

Police psychologist Mike Webster says the RCMP has created a toxic work environment. (CBC)

"I don't think there's a female in the outfit who hasn't been approached sexually," Webster said.

"The way her employer handled it afterwards is likely to have had a greater effect on her present mental state than what she went through initially."

Webster says Galliford's allegations come as no surprise.

"Senior executives for decades have been accountable to no one and they've created a toxic work environment, high levels of employee stress and a culture of fear," Webster said.

"It's causing a tremendous effect on the morale of the RCMP, so the grievance process doesn't help them at all. What are they going to do? They turn to ODS, off duty sick ... the RCMP membership calls it 'off duty mad.'"

In a statement to CBC News, the RCMP said harassment of any kind is not tolerated. The force also said there have been eight complaints of harassment in B.C. so far this year.

The RCMP says of the 225 officers in B.C. currently off duty sick, 48 are off duty because of workplace conflict and harassment. There are more than 6,000 Mounties working in B.C.

Galliford says she plans to file a lawsuit against the RCMP.

With files from the CBC's Natalie Clancy