Nova Scotia

Retired Mountie calls decision not to charge alleged sex abuser doctor 'sickening'

A retired RCMP sergeant can't understand why Halifax police refused to lay sexual abuse charges against a doctor who's the subject of 152 complaints.

'To me, it's a kick in the teeth. I don't know how much more you would need to charge somebody'

Retired RCMP sergeant Karen Miller, shown with her uniform, is outraged by a decision not to charge a Nova Scotia doctor, who is the subject of 152 complaints of sexual abuse by current and former RCMP officers. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

A retired RCMP sergeant is questioning why Halifax police refused to lay sexual abuse charges against a doctor who's the subject of 152 complaints by current and former RCMP members and civilians, both women and men.

"To me, it's a kick in the teeth. I don't know how much more you would need to charge somebody," said Karen Miller, who lives in the Halifax area.

"When you make this report and it's investigated by another police force, you expect something to be done out of it. The results here are sickening."

The investigation by Halifax Regional Police into the complaints, which involved hundreds of interviews, concluded with no charges. This week, members of the investigative team were contacting complainants with the news, and to ask that they not speak to media.

HRP asks complainants not to talk to media

"Please understand that it will take some time to reach out to each of you. Although we have no way of controlling it, we would appreciate if you would refrain from contacting the media as well as any other persons involved in this investigation until all complainants have been contacted," the department said in an email earlier this week.

Miller now hopes justice can be found through through the civil court system.

The RCMP faces two class-action lawsuits, based on allegations of systemic harassment and sexual abuse.

In 2016, the force settled one lawsuit, which included claims by more than 3,100 female officers for $100 million.

A second class-action lawsuit, filed by two veteran male Mounties in June 2018, also contains bullying and harassment claims. The mammoth $1.1-billion lawsuit could eventually involve thousands of male and female RCMP officers, civilian staff and even volunteers dating back decades.

Karen Miller, a former RCMP rider and instructor with the RCMP's Musical Ride, says a Nova Scotia doctor who worked for the force between 1981 and 2003 sexually abused her during a physical examination in 1987. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

Miller was a 21-year-old RCMP applicant heading off for training at the force's academy in Regina when she encountered the Nova Scotia doctor, who worked as a physician for the RCMP between 1981 and 2003.

She recalls being unprepared for what ended up being an invasive and traumatic physical examination, one that left her "violated," but afraid to tell anyone about the experience.

"Applying for the RCMP was my utmost ... that was my dream. So, I would have done anything, right?" said Miller, who retired after 29 years with the force.

Miller was first female sergeant in the history of the Musical Ride, joining the event as a rider in the late 1990s and promoted to instructor in 2005.

The exam she underwent in September 1987 was the final hurdle of her application process.

What Miller says happened during the medical exam

She said she attended the appointment by herself and was alone with the doctor for the exam.

"There was no nurse. I remember him being ... not scary, but a very authoritative figure ... kind of stern."

Miller said she undressed and put on a hospital gown and was then told to bend over and touch her toes.

'What's going on?'

"I did that, but as I was doing it, he's standing behind me. And I'm thinking, 'What's going on?'" she said.

She said there was a gap in the back of the gown where it tied and the doctor asked to straighten up and bend over three times, while he stood behind her.

"And at that point in time I was just, 'OK. Well, I want to get this done. I want to get it over with' because I'm feeling very uncomfortable, but I was doing what I had to do."

Retired RCMP sergeant Karen Miller says she loved her work, but hated the internal politics and harassment that thrived for decades in the force. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

A breast and vaginal exam followed.

Miller said she was uncomfortable with the length of time the doctor spent feeling her breasts and probing her vagina.

The next request was to lie on her side and without warning, the doctor inserted his finger into her rectum.

Miller said she was shocked and even more uncomfortable.

"I felt violated," she said. "And it felt like it was he was there for five minutes. It's just like everything was just going in slow motion and I was just upset and I didn't want to say anything."

A 2015 trading card of former RCMP sergeant Karen Miller. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

Miller said she tried to justify what had just happened to her.

"And of course, everything goes through your head, thinking, 'OK. Well, maybe this is what the RCMP needs to know to make sure that I'm perfectly healthy.'"

But she said what happened to her and others was "absolutely a sexual assault."

Because Miller is retired, she said she feels compelled to speak out about the experience and the disappointment she and others feel about the lack of accountability by the RCMP.

"I have nothing to hide. I want to speak for those people that can't speak right now. They're silent, they're afraid to say something, in case they're ostracized or you know, their jobs are jeopardized because we know what's been going on with the RCMP," she said.

With files from Elizabeth Chiu