Sexual harassment alleged against officer

Sexual harassment alleged against officer

Insp. Ed Boettcher says accusations against the officer are ‘uncorroborated and unsubstantiated.’

A former high-profile spokesman for the RCMP – well-known on the Semiahmoo Peninsula for local community initiatives – has been named as defendant in a civil suit alleging sexual harassment.

The statement of claim against Insp. Tim Shields, the Attorney General of Canada and the B.C. Minister of Justice was filed in B.C. Supreme Court Thursday by Atoya Montague, identified as a civilian member of the RCMP’s B.C. communication services, who has been on medical leave since August 2011.

Late Thursday, the chief officer of her division termed the allegations “uncorroborated  and unsubstantiated.”

Montague’s statement of claim details specific complaints against Shields, who at one time was the Surrey detachment’s media relations officer, and subsequently in charge of the strategic communications unit, to whom Montague reported.

She alleges Shields made several unwanted sexual advances to her starting with a trip they made to the B.C. Interior in 2003 to drop off supplies to wildfire victims; and that he had continued to make inappropriate, sexually harassing comments and send text messages to her throughout their work association.

Montague’s statement also charges that Shields’ alleged actions were in a context of “persistent and ongoing” sexual harassment practised by male officers with whom her job called for her to be in contact.

She also alleges systematic harassment from the RCMP on the terms of her employment, remuneration, promotions and subsequent issues of her deteriorating health, which she attributes partly to the conditions she experienced on the job. The harassment even extends to threats from RCMP health services to cut off her medical leave and pay, Montague alleges.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

In the statement released Thursday, Insp. Ed Boettcher acknowledges Montague’s allegations are serious. He said the RCMP had become aware of many of the allegations “through a third party” prior to the suit being filed and had launched an immediate investigation, however, repeated efforts to gather information directly from Montague had been unsuccessful.

“Notwithstanding these efforts, Ms. Montague did not provide any information that would have allowed for a fulsome investigation of the allegations,” Boettcher said.