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RCMP commissioner calls officer’s assault lawsuit ‘old news’

Caroline O'Farrell
RCMP Staff Sgt. Caroline O'Farrell is shown in a handout photo from the law firm who is representing her. O'Farrell is suing the national police force, alleging she was sexually assaulted, harassed, repeatedly doused in cold water and dragged through horse feces by colleagues. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/HANDOUT

TORONTO – RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson called allegations of assault by fellow officers from a former Musical Ride member “old news” in an interview with Global News on Thursday.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Caroline O’Farrell and her lawyers made public their intention to sue the RCMP on Tuesday, saying the cruel behaviour she suffered in the 1980s left her with post-traumatic stress, led to a marriage breakdown and stunted her prospects with the force.

O’Farrell filed a statement of claim in Ontario Superior Court, alleging she was sexually assaulted, harassed, repeatedly doused in cold water and dragged through horse feces by colleagues.

“I’m outraged by what happened, but that was 25 years ago,” said Paulson.

Paulson echoed the RCMP’s Wednesday statement, which said that involved officers were disciplined and inappropriate practices were banned following the 1987 allegations.

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Paulson said O’Farrell’s was “certainly not the experience that is the present experience in the RCMP and the Musical Ride.”

O’Farrell, 52, argues an internal investigation at the time substantiated more than 100 instances of harassment but no real action was taken by her supervisors.

“Some of the harassers received informal discipline (counseling and warnings); others received no form of censure at all,” says her statement of claim. It also names several current and former Mounties, and says some of her tormentors continue to work in senior positions in the RCMP today.

Paulson seems to disagree: “Our best information was that it was dealt with properly, and according to the discipline code of the day.”

O’Farrell, who still serves with the RCMP, is seeking millions of dollars in damages for assault, sexual assault, infliction of mental suffering, loss of income and pension entitlement, and breach of contract.

“We will go through the court process, and respect the court process, but this is old news,” said Paulson.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

With a file from The Canadian Press