RCMP face human rights complaint over errant phone message

A Nova Scotia woman has filed a complaint with the federal Human Rights Commission over her treatment by RCMP.

"So did she deserve to get hit?" officers joke after domestic assault

A Nova Scotia woman has filed a complaint after an RCMP officer inadvertently left a voicemail message in which several people can be heard making disparaging remarks about a domestic assault complaint she filed. (CBC)

A Nova Scotia woman has filed a complaint with the federal Human Rights Commission over her treatment by the RCMP.

The human rights action is on top of a complaint she's already made to the RCMP complaints commission.

I feel very unsafe in this county.

The complaints are about a phone message two RCMP officers accidentally left for her. 

The officers were investigating a complaint of domestic abuse she'd made against her then boyfriend.

"So did she deserve to get hit?" one officer says on the recording before laughing. 

The woman says a shed on her property was broken into after she went public. She didn't call police because she was afraid one of the officers she's complained about would respond.

"I've been vandalized," she said this week. "I have not reported it, because who am I going to call that's going to come here and do their job? One of those four? I don't want to take the chance."

The complaint refers to the officers heard on the recording. It also refers to a third officer who first investigated her assault complaint and a senior officer who contacted her after she publicized the recording.

"I feel very unsafe in this county. It's not a big place," she said. "There's not a lot of officers and I now have four RCMP officers who degraded me, whom I've had to go to the media with, and I feel that I'm unsafe here."

The woman fears for the safety of her children because of a previous relationship, so CBC News is not identifying her.

Call 911, RCMP urge

An RCMP spokesman said the woman should not be afraid to call police.

"A 911 call is important to police," said Cpl. Scott MacRae Friday. "If you're in need, or in trouble in a domestic violence situation, call 911 or get out of the situation or out of the house. Make that call and officers from the RCMP will attend and will investigate."

The woman has been getting support from Autumn House, the women's shelter in Cumberland County.

"Some people were worried and I was one of them," said Autumn House Executive Director Terry Cove.

Cove said it's unacceptable when women are afraid to call the RCMP. She doesn't know if others have been discouraged from reporting crimes because of the case. 

"The danger of that is we won't know that it's caused damage," she said. 

"We won't know that there's someone not calling Autumn House or not calling police because they are afraid to call or afraid of what response they'll get or what attitude they're facing."

Call for transparency

MacRae said the investigations against the four officers continue. He can't say when they'll be complete or whether the results will be made public.

The woman says they should be. "Abuse against women is quite prevalent, whether it's in Nova Scotia or anywhere," she said. "To make the changes, we have to be transparent and we have to make it public."