A former Kelowna, B.C. RCMP officer facing seven breach of trust charges has now pleaded guilty to a single count.
In a Kelowna courtroom on Wednesday, the Crown condensed the allegations of seven different women against Brian Burkett into one charge.
That outraged Michelle, one of Burkett’s victims whose real name is protected under a publication ban.
“How can you take seven women that have been violated and stalked and dock it down to one. I don’t understand how that happens,” she said. “I’m furious, and I feel broken.”
Court heard that Burkett met each of the seven victims while he was on the job and the women were vulnerable.
Each case was different, but between October 2015 and August 2016, he sent several of the women sexually explicit text messages.
According to the prosecution, after one woman stepped forward with a complaint against Burkett, police seized his unencrypted cell phone and were able to track down the other victims by going through his messages.
Court heard one woman had been suicidal when Burkett responded to a wellness check. The Crown said he later pressured her into giving him a kiss.
Michelle met Burkett when he stopped her for driving on a suspended licence.
She claims he sexually-assaulted her and has filed a civil suit against him, but that allegation was not addressed in criminal proceedings. A charge has not been laid.
Burkett’s lawyer pointed out that there was a three-year investigation into Burkett’s conduct.
“The charge that we are left with is the charge that’s before the court: the breach of trust allegations,” he said. “In other words, there’s no allegations of sexual assault, harassment or other criminal behaviour whatsoever.”
Michelle told court in her victim impact that she’s been living in fear since meeting Burkett.
“I’ve got no trust in the system. I’ve got no trust in anything,” she said. “I can’t sleep. I mean, I’m terrified of the police.”
Burkett was charged in 2019, after a three year investigation into his conduct.
He’s no longer a Mountie.
“I’ve worked hard to rebuild my life to have a career again,” he said.
Burkett told the judge that the time has been humbling, scary and humiliating.
“I am sorry for my actions,” he said in court. “They’re not who I am.”
Michelle noted that there was no direct apology to the victims.
“He didn’t say he was sorry for what he did to us,” she said. “It was about his kids and his career. What about my life, what about the trauma that I and my other girls what about what we’ve had to do. We’re terrified.”
The Crown is asking for Burkett to spend six to 12 months in jail.
The defence is asking for a conditional sentence, which would be served in the community with restrictions.
“This is a huge slap in the face to all of us that came forward,” Michelle said. “This is not punishment. This is not enough for what he’s done.”
“I’m disgusted. I feel violated. I feel unheard.”
The judge has reserved her decision on Burkett’s sentence until July 27.