A British Columbia lawyer says that at least eight women have approached him and detailed allegations against a doctor accused of sexually assaulting RCMP officers and applicants over a 22-year period.
Some have filed claims in a sexual harassment suit against the RCMP, while others have approached police and may be the basis for the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by the Halifax Regional Police.
“This is a very important story and it’s tremendously important for it to become public, a light to be shone on this misbehaviour and for women to feel safe to come forward,” said David Klein, of Klein Lawyers in Vancouver, on Tuesday.
According to Klein, five or six more women had approached him on Tuesday.
The doctor — who has yet to be named — is alleged to have sexually assaulted RCMP officers and applicants during medical examinations and periodic health assessments at the RCMP’s health services office in Bedford, N.S., between 1981 and 2003.
Klein says that his clients have alleged that the doctor was nicknamed “Dr. Fingers” by recruits.
Klein says some of the women approached him in the aftermath of last May’s formal apology to hundreds of former and serving female officers who were sexually harassed while working for the police over the past 40 years.
The government announced settlements of up to $220,000 for women who were sexually abused, and set up a claims process for the women.
Klein says some of the women approached him in the course of applying for their settlement claims.
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According to Klein, the women claim that they were assaulted by a physician at the clinic in Bedford.
“There were inappropriate cavity examinations, groping, things that were completely inappropriate to the recruitment examinations,” said Klein, declining to provide more details so as not to distress his clients.
Assistant-commissioner Brian Brennan, the head of the RCMP in Nova Scotia, said on Tuesday that there are “multiples of dozens” of complainants against the doctor — who was an employee of the RCMP.
“It’s disheartening to know that someone we put our faith into, to look after people, has let us down, let those people down,” said Brennan.
According to Brennan, higher-ups in the Mounties did not know about the allegations until they were informed of the reports before November of last year.
“To my knowledge, no information has been brought up to senior management of the RCMP in any regard,” Brennan said.
Const. Carol McIsaac, a spokesperson with Halifax Regional Police (HRP), said that the force was first notified of the alleged incidents on Jan. 19. The RCMP have begun to refer additional complaints to Halifax.
“We’ve received numerous complaints over the last several days,” McIsaac told Global News on Tuesday.
“We expect to probably receive more and we’re encouraging anybody that was victimized as a result of these incidents to come forward to us, and make the complaint and we’ll go forward with the investigation.”
McIsaac would not provide a figure on how many complaints have been received.