HALIFAX — Police in Halifax are investigating allegations that RCMP members and recruits were sexually assaulted by a doctor at the Mounties’ health clinic in Nova Scotia over two decades.
The force’s commanding officer in Nova Scotia, Assistant Commissioner Brian Brennan, said in a note to officers that several employees have come forward, and he expects “many more” in the months ahead.
“I am at a loss for words as I write this message to you. To say I’m shocked and disheartened doesn’t seem like enough,” Brennan wrote. “This is an extremely devastating time for those who have shared their trauma and are reliving this, and I am beyond unsettled to think that an individual who this organization entrusted abused their position of power.”
The RCMP said the incidents occurred between October 1981 and July 2003 at the RCMP health services office in the Halifax suburb of Bedford.
Assistant Commissioner Stephen White, the force’s acting chief human resources officer, said in an email to members that the allegations involved a doctor who conducted recruitment medical examinations and periodic health assessments on members.
“We understand that the individual has retired from practising medicine,” White wrote.
White and Brennan both urged anyone with knowledge of the alleged sexual assaults to contact Halifax Regional Police and to seek help from the RCMP’s medical staff and psychologists.
Const. Carol McIsaac, spokeswoman for Halifax police, says an investigation was opened after the allegations were brought to their attention late last week.
“The investigation is in the very early stages and is fluid at this time,” she said in an email. “While we are unable to provide a specific number, we can confirm that we have received a number of calls so far.”
RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said in an email that stories about the allegations were shared with senior RCMP managers last fall.
“In late November 2017, individuals shared their experiences with senior managers that they are survivors of sexual assaults that involved a doctor who worked for the RCMP between 1981 and 2003,” she said.
The RCMP formally apologized last May to hundreds of former and serving female officers who were sexually harassed while working for the police force over the past 40 years.
It also announced settlements of up to $220,000 for women who were sexually abused, and set up a claims process for the women.
At the time, the lawyers involved estimated that more than 1,000 claimants will receive about $89 million.
Michael Tutton and Alison Auld, The Canadian Press