RCMP's recent history of harassment, abuse and discrimination

Senior officers from the RCMP's Canadian Police College are facing serious allegations of unwanted sexual touching, bullying and rampant nudity in the workplace — but it's far from the first time the Mounties have been rocked by similar allegations.
The Mounties have been rocked by hundreds of harassment complaints in the last decade, and now CBC News has learned the Canadian Police Centre has suspended two of its most senior officers. (various)

The RCMP is investigating allegations against two former instructors at the Canadian Police College, CBC News has learned, following complaints from former staff that their earlier allegations of bullying and harassment were ignored.

Allegations of bullying are not new for the Mounties — in fact, the force has been rocked by hundreds of complaints in the last decade.

In 2012, after a long investigation, the RCMP public complaints commission found rampant bullying in the police force. It unearthed 718 complaints filed by employees between 2005 and 2011, and found almost half the complaints were from men.

The watchdog's investigation said the widespread perception of rampant harassment had rattled public confidence and tarnished the force's reputation.

In February 2013, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson vowed to take action in the face of growing public disgust with the conduct of some of his officers.

He released an action plan entitled "Gender and Respect," that included some 37 steps the force would take to respond to mounting sexual harassment complaints.

"We've taken a big step forward," he told a parliamentary committee at the time, but he insisted there was not a "systemic" culture of sexual harassment.

Below is a list of some of the other incidents of sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination the force has faced in recent years:

1. 400 female RCMP officers sue the Mounties for allegedly ignoring sexual harassment

More women want to join lawsuit against RCMP

8 years ago
Duration 3:11
Female officers and civilian employees join former Const. Janet Merlo in sexual harassment suit

Nearly 400 female RCMP officers and civilian employees are suing the Mounties alleging years of sexual harassment, bullying and abuse.

Many of the complainants argue that management ignored their concerns for years, leaving them with PTSD and other mental health conditions.

Const. Janet Merlo, who has launched the class action, told CBC News she faced years of "overtly sexual comments" from her boss, including "offering to rub my breast ... offering to give me his 'big Italian salami' and asking if 'I liked it on top?'"

She also alleges a sergeant left a dildo and a vacuum attachment on her desk.

Merlo says other women that are part of the lawsuit have faced similarly disturbing treatment from their male colleagues.

2. The RCMP then tried to fire some of the alleged victims of sexual harassment

Women suing RCMP ask Justin Trudeau for help

7 years ago
Duration 2:24
Susan Gastaldo, Catherine Galliford, Alice Fox and Atoya Montegue are suing the force for harrassment on the job

The RCMP has tried to fire two of the women named in the class action suit. Two more women say they fear they could also be dismissed by the police force, while others are on medical leave after facing harassment.

In a statement sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shortly after his Oct. 19 victory, the women pleaded with him to intervene to stop the dismissals.

3. RCMP officers have been accused of raping indigenous women in B.C.

RCMP accused of rape in report

10 years ago
Duration 2:52
The RCMP says it wants to get to the bottom of abuse allegations against its officers in B.C. involving aboriginal women, but says individuals making the claims must come forward

Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy group, sent researchers to B.C. to investigate claims of RCMP abuse against indigenous women.

They interviewed women and girls in First Nations communities along the "Highway of Tears."

The group heard stories of alleged police pepper-spraying and using Tasers on young aboriginal girls, and of women being strip-searched by male officers.

The report also contains troubling and graphic allegations of physical and sexual abuse, including from a woman, identified as homeless, who describes how an officer took her outside of town and raped her.

The RCMP promised to investigate the claims, and said it is taking the accusations seriously.

4. An RCMP staffer had sex with a unit commander in a police car while on duty

Mountie cleared of misconduct charge

8 years ago
Duration 2:36
Const. Susan Gastaldo argued she had been coerced into having sex with her unit commander

In 2012, Const. Susan Gastaldo was found guilty of disgraceful misconduct, which involved having sex in a police car during work hours and using an RCMP BlackBerry for "sexting" with her unit commander, Staff Sgt. Travis Pearson. Both were docked pay.

​​During a hearing on the incident, Galstaldo claimed she was coerced into a sexual relationship, while Pearson, a former RCMP professional standards supervisor, claimed it was consensual.

The board decided Gastaldo was lying and only alleged she was sexually assaulted after her husband found her Blackberry and learned of the affair.

Later, the RCMP secretly cleared Galstaldo and quietly dropped all the charges against her.

5. RCMP's former top spokeswoman goes public after years of alleged abuse

RCMP harassment allegations

11 years ago
Duration 4:00
One of B.C.'s highest profile Mounties says she's suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after years of sexual harassment.

One of B.C.'s highest profile Mounties went public in 2011, alleging she faced years of sexual harassment

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

Despite her high profile, she alleged her supervisor was a serial abuser.

"Everything that came out of his [a supervisor's] mouth was sexual," Galliford said in an interview with CBC News. "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.

Galliford says the command and control structure at the RCMP encouraged Mounties to stay quiet, or risk getting reprimanded.

6. Alice Fox, officer featured in the force's 'It Gets Better' campaign, sues for harassment

RCMP sued over new harassment allegations

8 years ago
Duration 2:28
Alice Fox, RCMP officer in 'It Gets Better' video, sues force for harassment

Const. Alice Fox, one of 20 Mounties who told their stories in a video for the "It Gets Better" campaign, is suing a superior officer for alleged harassment and bullying.

In a B.C. Supreme Court notice of civil claim, Fox alleges a staff sergeant subjected her to years of humiliating comments and behaviour. 

"[Fox] has suffered permanent and irreparable harm including extreme embarrassment, loss of reputation, extreme stress resulting in disabling psychological injury, personal expense and financial loss," the claim says.

Fox went public about her sexuality in 2012 in a 10-minute video produced by the RCMP's youth unit. The Mounties told their stories about overcoming bullying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Canadians.

In her lawsuit, Fox claims it wasn't her sexuality but her learning disabilities that drew harassment.