Police News: Woman harassed by cop says justice system has failed

Despite a police misconduct investigation that found a high-ranking BC officer stalked and harassed his ex-girlfriend for years, a criminal investigation into the case did not lead to any findings. charges.

Staff Sgt. Andrew Walsh was the Chief of the Detective Division of the Saanich Police Department when the woman, whom CTV News calls TB, reported to the province’s Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner in 2021. The investigation found that his actions were “extremely serious”. “, including repeated unwanted contact with TB, using police databases to perform at least 92 searches on her and her family members, and lying about it during the investigation.

The disciplinary decision said dismissal would be the only appropriate consequence. However, Walsh was not fired, he retired before this investigation was completed in 2022.

‘IT FAILED’

Prior to reporting Walsh in 2021, the woman says she believed the criminal justice system and society as a whole had made significant progress in how they handle cases like these.

“I think we’ve come a long way when it comes to women’s rights, which includes protecting women who are in intimate relationships or out of intimate relationships – beyond protecting the reputation of a offender, who happens to be a man in a position of authority. I was wrong – we haven’t come a long way,” she told CTV News, explaining why she decided to speak out. .

“I’m hoping for some level of protection because it failed in the criminal justice system, in the Crown office – it failed.”

TB, who herself was a police officer for 30 years, filed a police report on Walsh’s behavior out of concern for her safety and that of her family.

The matter was handled by Sidney/North Saanich RCMP detectives and was being investigated alongside the conduct complaint. Statements and other documents collected during the investigation of the misconduct have been shared with detectives assigned to the criminal case.

“THEY SEEM REALLY SURE”

To the knowledge of TB, a report to the Crown Attorney was submitted recommending a criminal harassment charge in September 2021.

“I think they did a very thorough investigation, conducted themselves with a lot of empathy and compassion. They seemed really sure, I don’t think they thought about whether it would be approved or not.” she declared.

The following March, TB learned that the Crown had refused to prosecute. Additionally, he was told that a peace bond would not be pursued. A peace bond – although made under the Criminal Code of Canada – is not a charge or conviction. It is basically a protective order that can be granted by the court if it is satisfied that a person reasonably fears for their safety, that of their family, or that damage will be caused to their property.

TB said one of the reasons he was given for the decision was that Walsh had done “nothing” since April 2021, when the conduct complaint was filed.

“He was under investigation. So of course he didn’t do anything – as far as we know. One of the most upsetting things, for any victim of any crime, anything traumatic, is to be told don’t be scared no more,” TB said.

She also says that the months of waiting for a decision made her feel like her file was “living” on a desk.

TB has been trying to get a better explanation of the outcome ever since, starting with a conversation with the prosecutor who made the decision. Due to Walsh’s rank and profession, the case was referred to a prosecutor in another jurisdiction on Vancouver Island.

“I can say that conversation, it didn’t make sense to me. She wasn’t able to explain the reasons,” TB said. “She kept saying, ‘Well, that’s my assessment. This is my assessment. “”

LOAD ASSESSMENT

British Columbia is one of only two provinces in Canada where Crown counsel make the decision to lay a charge. In other jurisdictions, the police do this.

According to provincial guidelines, there is a two-part test that must be met for a case to proceed. First, the Crown must determine whether there is a “substantial likelihood of conviction”. If so, the Crown must then decide “whether the public interest requires a prosecution”.

These assessment guidelines are supplemented by more specific guidelines for particular crimes.

In the case of criminal harassment, the guidelines begin by describing the offense itself.

“Unlike most related criminal offenses (e.g. assault) which, by definition, involve a criminal act committed before the investigation and prosecution process begins, incidents of stalking are often ongoing” , indicates the document.

“While harassment does not necessarily include an explicit threat, the cumulative effect of prohibited activity, whether phone calls, letters, surveillance and assault, generates an atmosphere of fear which can eventually emotionally weaken the victim. The majority of these cases involve victims who at some point had a relationship with the accused.”

The guidelines also say that decisions in these cases “must be expedited” because delays can be painful for victims who are already living in fear. Additionally, the policy states that a peace bond must be considered whenever charges are not approved or in the event charges are stayed.

FAMILY IMPACT

One of the factors listed as having to be considered in these cases is whether there is evidence that the harassment included people other than the victim, such as family members, friends or co-workers.

For tuberculosis, this is one of the most upsetting aspects of Walsh’s behavior in his case. The misconduct investigation revealed he searched police databases for 13 people associated with him. This included his mother, siblings, and children. Her ex-husband and current partner were also questioned, as was her late father.

“As a victim of this type of crime and behavior, it’s one thing if it’s against you, and only you. But when it involves your family, it takes things to another level. And, of course , I have to accept blaming myself for bringing it into my family, so that’s another factor,” TB said.

After the misconduct investigation began, one of TB’s nieces told her that Walsh had started showing up at her workplace. She remembers breaking down in tears when she was told.

After reporting this to investigators, they performed another search of Walsh’s database which revealed that he had sought information on his niece, in accordance with the disciplinary decision.

“We still don’t know the extent of his actions. It’s such an invasion. There’s the harassment and harassment, but there’s also the breaching of all of our private records, repeatedly and knowingly. cause. It’s really hard to understand why anyone would do that,” she said.

“If someone asks that way, it’s very disturbing behavior, you can’t understand, they become unpredictable, and that’s where the fear comes in.”

The British Columbia Prosecution Service declined to comment on the case.

“BCPS cannot comment on the results of the police investigation into this matter,” a spokesperson wrote in an email.

“BCPS will not comment on these matters,” read another.

“TALK TO YOU, TALK TO YOU”

The TB attempted to have the decision reconsidered, writing everyone down to the province’s attorney general and attaching all documents detailing the now-completed police misconduct investigation.

In an email she provided to CTV News, Murray Rankin’s office says the case has been referred to the prosecution for review.

BCPS did not confirm this, with the spokesperson saying in an email that no comment could be made on “any communication between the Attorney General and members of the public.”

TB says she feels Walsh is being protected in her place, which is why she decided to share her story publicly.

“I hope if the community knows, the public knows, that this…will deter this from continuing for me or any of my family members,” she said.

“All women who find themselves in this position – especially when it comes to police officers who are the abusers – talk, talk.”