Gary Dimmock, Ottawa (Vancouver Sun) – An internal RCMP investigation into a series of sex and drinking escapades in a staff sergeant’s office revealed a pattern of sexual harassment so disturbing that senior Ottawa Mounties say it will take “considerable effort to rebuild the damaged trust of our organization.”
The investigation, which has not been made public until now, reviewed seven reports about the misconduct of Staff Sgt. Don Ray, the officer in charge of the polygraph unit at Alberta’s RCMP headquarters in Edmonton.
Internal Affairs investigators discovered Sgt. Ray was hosting after-hours parties in his office and kept a bar fridge stocked with Budweiser and Appleton Jamaica Rum. Sgt. Ray would encourage female subordinates to drink and make sexual advances when alone with them, the investigation found.
In April 2009, close to the end of one work day, Sgt. Ray invited his staff to a private office party at which he invited them to sit down and have a drink.
One of his female subordinates consumed four beers over two hours, and once the others left, Sgt. Ray unzipped his pants, exposed himself and told her to touch his penis, according to RCMP files. She refused.
“S/Sgt. Ray then wanted to have sexual intercourse with Ms. A, which she refused. S/ Sgt. Ray insisted but Ms. A. maintained her refusal. They then both left the building without further sexual contact,” a senior disciplinary officer wrote in his findings in February.
The investigation said Sgt. Ray exhibited a “serial” pattern of “disgraceful” conduct.
Sgt. Ray’s behaviour is the latest in a series of complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination levelled against the RCMP across the country.
A high-profile RCMP veteran, Cpl. Catherine Galliford, ignited the controversy last fall by speaking publicly about her internal allegations of sexual harassment and abuse by former male colleagues.
The complaints prompted an investigation by the RCMP Public Complaints Commission, which has asked for pub-lic input into how the Mounties dealt with the allegations. The watchdog’s probe is examining whether the RCMP followed laws and policies when investigating claims of workplace harassment. It is also considering whether existing force guidelines for dealing with such allegations are adequate.
Sgt. Ray admitted to all allegations, expressed remorse and apologized in writing. The RCMP docked him 10 days pay, demoted him by one rank to sergeant, and recommended that he be transferred.
“It goes without saying that should similar misconduct occur, dismissal would be a very likely option for a future board to consider,” the disciplinary panel said.
Sgt. Ray also had “inappropriate and unprofessional” interactions with prospective female employees.
He sent them “disgraceful” emails, took them out for drinks during the hiring process and once falsified security clearance forms for one woman, exaggerating the number of years she’d known one of her character references.
The discipline board said Sgt. Ray’s conduct was “disgraceful because [it] compromised the integrity of the RCMP’s hiring process.”
Sgt. Ray’s “disturbing pattern of activity” dates back to 2006, when he would book a polygraph suite for lunchtime sex with a female subordinate.
“It is highly disrespectful to employees who legitimately use the polygraph suite,” the discipline board noted.