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‘I was afraid’: Women describe former RCMP officer’s alleged abuse of authority

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A former RCMP officer is being accused of abusing his authority by pursuing inappropriate sexual relationships with vulnerable women who had turned to police for help. Jules Knox reports. – Apr 19, 2021

A former RCMP officer is being accused of abusing his authority by pursuing inappropriate sexual relationships with vulnerable women who had turned to police for help.

Several of the women are now stepping forward with their stories.

Kate, whose name has been changed because of the sexual nature of the allegations, said she turned to RCMP in February 2016.

Read more: Lawsuit accuses former Kelowna RCMP officer of sexual assault

She said Const. Brian Burkett came to her home for a domestic violence call, taking photos — and her phone number.

He started by texting updates on her case.

“Later on that night I got a series of text messages from Burkett and at that time he started to get really personal,” Kate said.

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Then, Kate said, it turned sexually explicit.

“If he got a chance with me, what he would do on his shift and wanting to come over, have a sexual encounter, would I be up for it, did I think he was handsome. He sent me a picture of his genitals,” Kate said.

Read more: Civil claim says former Kelowna RCMP officer sexually harassed assault victim

“He started aggressively asking me when I was free and intermingling the fact that we had to talk and see each other because of my case,” she added.

Kate said she felt scared and overwhelmed.

“He wanted to be the sole person looking out for me,” she said.

Kate said Burkett also started harassing her at work and demanding sexual favours.

“I was frozen. I was afraid. I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t know who to ask,” she said.

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Kate turned to the Elizabeth Fry Society, and she said they took her seriously.

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But a few months after she reported Burkett, Kate said she was recovering from emergency surgery at home when her door got kicked in.

“I can’t even describe the feeling of your door being kicked in when you’re just a law-abiding citizen who is recovering from a surgery, and then 10 armed police officers, with no ambulance, no medical team, no reason to be there, tell you to get up and that they got an anonymous tip and that you are now going to the hospital,” she said.

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Kate said she started to cry and asked if she was under arrest.

She said they told her she was going with them whether she liked it or not.

Kate said the officers wouldn’t allow her to have her phone, and she was taken to hospital in a police vehicle.

“After about half an hour, I realized I hadn’t been checked in, and nobody knew I was there,” Kate said. “I’d been pulled out of my home. I’d been illegally detained. I’d been taken down to the hospital and left with no way to get home. No purse, no phone.”

Read more: Sentencing wraps in assault case tied to alleged RCMP misconduct

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Kate said she, her mother, her landlord and a health advocate called RCMP for answers but got no response.

“There was no reason as to who this anonymous person was that called in a wellness check,” Kate said.

Read more: ‘I sobbed all the way home’: Alleged victim takes stand in Kelowna Mountie’s sexual assault trial

“And the only thing that comes to mind is I testified against a police officer. And I was the person that had some pretty damning evidence against this person,” she added.

Kate said she still had her sexually explicit text messages from Burkett.

The allegations against him have not been proven in court.

Sara, whose name has also been changed, met Burkett in 2016 when she turned to RCMP for help.

“I was in crisis mode,” she said. “It’s just a huge problem that that call was taken by a 100 per cent predator, who knew I was vulnerable, knew I was alone, knew I was scared,” she said.

Sara said Burkett then started texting her.

Read more: Questions raised over lengthy investigations into Kelowna Mounties’ conduct

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She said he asked for sexually explicit pictures but wanted to keep it a secret.

“As a child who is a survivor of sexual abuse, hearing ‘don’t tell anybody,’ is something that I’ve heard for a lot of years as a little girl,” Sara said.

Instead of helping her, Burkett triggered her childhood trauma, Sara said.

“It gives me a physical response. I vibrate. I have these two little girls that I’m raising that I’m to teach them that if they’re in harm, RCMP are safe people. And I don’t have that feeling with them.”

Read more: Seven charges of breach of trust laid against former B.C. Mountie

The allegations against Burkett have not been proven in court, and he did not respond to requests for an interview.

The Crown says it expects him to plead guilty on June 2.

Four women have filed civil claims against Burkett, including Sara and Kate.

Read more: Civil lawsuits pile up against former Kelowna Mountie

He has not yet filed a statement of defence.

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