A Kelowna RCMP officer has been suspended with pay for allegedly sending graphic and sexually explicit text messages to a victim in a case he was investigating.
Const. Sean Eckland is facing an internal code of conduct investigation, according to RCMP spokesperson Dawn Roberts.
On April 22, 2018, officers responded to the 13000-block of McCreight Road in Lake country.
At the time, RCMP said in a press release that they were met outside the home by a severely beaten woman and a delirious and incoherent man.
Lonnie Smith was charged with aggravated assault, unlawful confinement, sexual assault and uttering threats.
Eckland was one of the investigators on the case.
A trial was scheduled for November.
Just before the trial, the victim hired lawyer Donald McKay.
McKay told Global News that the victim was concerned there was a long list of charges against Smith, but she didn’t have a clear recollection about anything except for the assault. She didn’t want to testify to the other charges, McKay said.
Smith says the charges against him were trumped up.
He said he pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault charge and simple confinement in late November. He denies any sexual assault.
In the meantime, it appears that Eckland was sexting the victim from his personal cell phone.
Graphic text messages shared with Global News allegedly show Eckland suggesting the pair meet up in the bathroom at court. He also appears to ask the victim to carry out sexual acts and send him the video.
Smith said it’s totally inappropriate that after RCMP claimed he sexually assaulted the woman (which he denies), that an officer allegedly went on to sext her.
RCMP have asked an outside police force to investigate the matter, Roberts said in an email.
“As the investigation proceeds, the member is currently suspended with pay and his duty status is subject to continual assessment,” she said.
Police are taking the allegations seriously, Roberts said.
“It is also clear that not all the facts are known in this matter,” she added.
“RCMP acted immediately once we became aware of the information, and we are confident that the comprehensive internal and external investigations currently underway will guide our actions moving forward,” Roberts said.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Eckland said he did not have any comment when reached by phone Friday afternoon.