Warning: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to readers. Discretion is advised.
Some of a former Kelowna RCMP officer’s alleged victims believe that Const. Brian Burkett’s behaviour escalated over time, and that there might be more women who ran into problems with him.
Zoe first met Burkett in Duncan in 2012 after she had called 911 for help.
She said she was run off the road by an aggressive male driver, and the officer texted her to come down to the station to give a statement.
“And when I had completed that, Const. Burkett turned off his tape recorder, put away his note pad, and immediately began commenting on my appearance — saying that he liked my piercings, asked if I had any tattoos,” Zoe said.
His comments made her uncomfortable, Zoe said, so she left.
“Not one minute down the road, my cellphone started buzzing and it buzzed the entire 10-minute drive home,” Zoe said.
Zoe said Burkett had sent her at least a dozen text messages.
“All of the messages were sexually suggestive,” she said. “It was clear that he was impulsively, obsessively and aggressively attempting to pursue an intimate relationship with me.”
“I realized that I was vulnerable to this person who had access to all of my personal information, including my home address and phone number.”
Zoe said she was scared and felt violated.
“I felt like this officer who was supposed to help me to feel safe and support me as a victim of that crime actually made me feel more unsafe than that aggressive driver had,” she said.
The officer’s actions prompted her to engage in avoidant behaviours, like never driving by the RCMP detachment and parking her vehicle in a way that it’s not sticking out, she said.
Zoe said she didn’t respond to Burkett’s messages, and he didn’t text her again. But she didn’t report him at the time.
“He tested the waters with me and he got away with it. And I have to live with it every day, that I didn’t come forward then,” she said.
Burkett’s behaviour had allegedly escalated by the time he met Michelle four years later in Kelowna.
Michelle’s name has been changed because of the sexual nature of her allegations against Burkett.
She said she was driving her boss’s vehicle on a suspended licence when he pulled her over.
Burkett gave Michelle a ticket, and then he called her a couple of days later, she said.
“And he said you know, if we meet up, then you know maybe we can work something out,” Michelle said.
She said she was surprised when he showed up in his own car and not in uniform.
“He’s like, ‘Oh, let’s go for a drive’,” she said. “And I’m like, ‘I can’t go far, I’ve got to get back.’ I don’t really know what’s going on here.”
But she got into the car, and Burkett took her to a remote area, Michelle said.
“He kept going and going. And I was like, ‘I can’t go this far,” she said. “I’ve got to get back, I don’t have much time. And I was starting to get really scared.”
“My heart was starting to race.”
Michelle said that when Burkett finally pulled over, he asked for a sexual favour.
She said that he told her if she “serviced him,” he would do what he could to get her ticket to go away.
“It was all wrong, the whole thing was just wrong. I didn’t know if he had his weapon on him, at that point I didn’t even really know where I was,” she said.
Michelle said she was scared and felt powerless.
“And then he started to get kind of a bit forceful, and he was like, ‘This isn’t working,’” she said. “He’s like, ‘Take off your pants’.”
Michelle said she tried not to cry as he pinned her down.
“I knew what I was doing, I knew that I didn’t want to be doing this, and I knew that at this point, what was I going to do? Like I was in the car,” she said.
Michelle said, when it was over, Burkett dumped her at a convenience store on the edge of town.
“He was like, ‘You’re in a hurry, so get out’,” Michelle said.
“He wanted to degrade me and to embarrass me and to show his power,” she said.
“And when dropped me off, he was like, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be able to do something about that ticket’,” she said.
Michelle had to cab back home.
“And I was like, I just got played. I got violated. I was scared that I could have gotten hurt,” she said.
Michelle said Burkett continued to sext her and threatened her with jail time as an officer still involved in her case.
“I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know who to call. I was humiliated and embarrassed with myself and with what happened, so I made the choice to leave Kelowna,” Michelle said.
The allegations against Burkett have not been proven in court, and he did not respond to requests for an interview.
He’s no longer a police officer, and he’s facing seven breach of trust charges.
The Crown expects him to plead guilty on June 2.
Burkett was not charged with sexual assault.
Although charges were never laid in Zoe’s case, she and Michelle have both filed lawsuits against the former officer.
Burkett has not filed a defence in response to any of the civil claims.