BC orders investigation into allegations RCMP dropped in investigation into abuse of Indigenous girls in Prince George

The RCMP detachment in Prince George, BC, in February 2023. (Kate Partridge/CBC - photo credit)

The RCMP detachment in Prince George, BC, in February 2023. (Kate Partridge/CBC – photo credit)

The provincial government has ordered an outside inquiry after an independent report found the RCMP failed to properly investigate what one official called potentially “egregious” allegations that Mounties had abused and molested Indigenous girls decades ago in Prince George, BC .

A statement on Thursday confirmed that the province will launch a “full, independent investigation outside the jurisdiction of the troubling complaints” detailed in the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) report, which responded to complaints about the RCMP becoming public beliefs not handled properly.

“The RCMP has confirmed that it will cooperate fully with the investigation, including making all of its recordings available to the outside agency – which will be announced in the coming weeks,” the Minister for Public Affairs said in the emailed statement Security, Mike Farnworth, whose department oversees RCMP.

“Our government is absolutely committed to ending systemic violence against Indigenous women, girls, 2SLGBTQ+ people and vulnerable people, particularly in cases involving the police, and much remains to be done.”

The new investigation is the latest step in a case described as “scandal, upon scandal, upon scandal” and stretching from allegations of police misconduct in the early 2000s to allegations of a cover-up by senior officers from the country’s largest police force enough violence — a mess that was only made public when a veteran officer refused to drop the matter after his initial complaint went largely unanswered.

“I want these officers to be held accountable by any means possible … the public needs to know, First Nations need to know: why did they do what they did?” Or, frankly, didn’t,” said retired Staff Sgt. Garry Kerr, whose complaint led to the CRCC report.

“This is a place to start.”



Allegations were first reported to the top in 2011

Kerr, now 62, was sitting at home on the BC coast around noon when he heard some of the words he had been waiting for his entire life in retirement: An official in power, a provincial minister, ordered what Kerr saw a proper investigation into the allegations he had been sounding the alarm about since 2011.

“I applaud the province for taking the steps and announcing it will be an outside agency. That’s absolutely right,” he said. “Here is an opportunity – albeit many, many years too late.”

The CRCC report, first reported by the Toronto Star, revealed the details of the scandal for the first time.

The case began for Kerr when he received a call from a corporal in Kamloops, BC, where they were both stationed, in 2011 about her ex-husband molesting an Indigenous teenager on the streets of Prince George.

She claimed that all but one of the incriminating tapes disappeared after her ex-husband reportedly broke into her home in 2006, according to a copy of the CRCC report provided to CBC News.

The allegations joined a long list of allegations that RCMP officers, including the police officer’s ex-husband and a provincial court judge in the central BC city, allegedly assaulted underage sex workers between 2000 and 2004. Judge David Ramsay was convicted and later convicted and died in prison.



Alleged video now lost, reports say

After finding the alleged tapes, the junior officer had called Kerr, looking for someone she could trust. Kerr, a 30-year veteran of the force, took her concerns straight to the top of the chain of command in an email to the BC RCMP Deputy Commissioner that night.

According to the CRCC report, top brass officials agreed that both officers needed to be interviewed, but no one took their statements until months later, in December 2011.

After the interview, the officer gave an investigator the only videotape she had from her basement. She said it did not include footage of her ex-husband’s alleged wrongdoing, but instead included footage of his former wife.

A Chief Superintendent of the RCMP later told the CRCC he had viewed the tape and concluded that it was not linked to allegations of police misconduct, but the commission could not find any records to confirm that the senior officer ever seen the footage.

Mounties later told the commission that the tape had since been “misplaced.”

Kerr retired from the RCMP in 2012. He filed his complaint with the CRCC in 2015, alleging that supervisors failed to properly investigate the allegations made four years earlier.

The CRCC eventually determined that the allegations could constitute criminal charges related to obstruction of justice and criminal conspiracy or wrongdoing under the RCMP’s own code of conduct. It said any of the alleged videotapes could be considered “supporting evidence of his alleged criminal conduct with underage sex workers in Prince George.”

However, the commission found no evidence “that anyone was clearly destined to lead an investigation [Kerr’s] Report from [the constable’s] allegations or that a file was created to track the matter.”

Mike McArthur/CBC

Mike McArthur/CBC

Calls for Public Inquiry

“It’s a horrifying story,” said Prof. Arthur Schafer, director of the Center for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, who described the case as a multifaceted “scandal.”

“The most important resource any police force has is public trust. So if nothing happens when a courageous colleague reports to superiors [up] the line of command that is deeply corrosive – not just to police ethics but to the integrity of the entire justice system.

Kerr received a written apology from RCMP Comm. Brenda Lucki in 2021. On Friday, BC RCMP Staff Sgt. Kris Clark said the force is “very concerned” with the complaints, which allege no action has been taken on historic allegations and that the force is “full and fully co-operate with the independent investigation”.

Kate Partridge/CBC

Kate Partridge/CBC

Speaking to the CRCC report, Kerr was at a loss for words.

“The truth was the RCMP just buried this for some reason and to me that is irresponsible. It’s something that’s so outrageous to me that these people, these RCMP officers who are all retired now, need to be held accountable by First Nations people in BC,” he said.

Kerr and Schafer both agreed that they would like to see officers accountable for their actions, or lack thereof, in a public inquiry.

“There are two things I want to get out of what’s going on right now. First, I want justice for all of these young First Nations girls that were [allegedly] abused and want it properly investigated. Number two, I want RCMP to be held accountable by the First Nations people in the province.

“If that comes out after all these years, then the last 12 years of my life have been… worth it.”


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