ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary should have more thoroughly investigated one of its officers accused of inappropriate sexual conduct, according to a report released Thursday by the province's police oversight agency.
The officer, now retired, was the subject of several allegations — including sexual misconduct and harassment — that were investigated by the police force, Michael King, the civilian director of the province’s Serious Incident Response Team, said in his report.
"If the … allegations are true, it is clear that (the retired officer) has displayed a disturbing pattern of using his position to solicit sexual favour from women in the St. John’s area — most commonly in the downtown vicinity," King wrote.
King's agency, known as SIRT-NL, investigates incidents involving death, serious injury, sexual offence, domestic violence or any matter of significant public interest that may have arisen from the actions of a police officer.
One of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary probes into the officer was connected to a February 2017 incident in which the officer was accused of sexually assaulting a woman whom he drove home from downtown St. John's. The police force, King wrote, reached an "informal resolution" with the officer in which he would resign. King said the force then closed the file and took no further action.
“In my opinion, the RNC should have investigated this incident more thoroughly when it first came to light years ago," King wrote, adding that the incident involved a potentially criminal offence.
He said, however, that there isn't enough evidence to launch another investigation against the officer.
“It presents a significant obstacle for an investigative agency when an investigation takes place years after the fact.”
King says a woman alleged that the officer offered her a ride home from a night out in downtown St. John’s, N.L. and then made comments about her looks and marital status. He says he parked his car in front of her home and then tried to put his tongue in her mouth as they kissed and tried to put his hand up her skirt.
King says that his investigators were unable to contact the woman, who now lives in the United States, and that a lawyer eventually contacted them to say she did not want to pursue a criminal investigation.
“Simply put, without her (the complainant’s) participation in the investigation, we were unable to substantiate laying a charge in relation to that incident,” King said.
Despite the investigative roadblock, he said the file remains open.
King said his investigation was prompted by media reports last year that several women had alleged they had been sexually assaulted by Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers. The force's chief, now retired, said he was aware of allegations against at least one officer, King said.
King said he then asked the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary to provide him with everything they had in connection with these allegations.
The RNC said in an emailed statement on Thursday, "We will provide an update once we have had the opportunity to review the report."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2022.
The Canadian Press