4 Mounties under investigation for jail sex incident
Published Tuesday, August 31, 2010 4:42PM PDT Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 11:34PM PDT
Police have confirmed that four male Mounties in Kamloops, B.C., are under investigation for allegedly watching a sexual encounter between two female prisoners on closed-circuit video for seven minutes without intervening.
The cops -- including one 20-year member of the RCMP -- are now the subject of both criminal and internal investigations because of what happened on Aug. 18, according to RCMP spokesman Insp. Tim Shields.
Two male civilian guards and one male civilian watch clerk at the Kamloops RCMP detachment are also under investigation by police and the City of Kamloops.
According to police, the two women at the centre of the scandal were arrested separately on suspicion of being drunk in public and causing a disturbance.
They were placed in the same cell at the detachment, where they, "began to engage in what appeared to be consensual sexual contact," Shields said in a press release.
The four cops and three civilians allegedly watched the encounter live on video without stepping in.
"The videotape is very clear. It is impartial. It shows exactly what happened between the two women inside that cell. It also shows when the employees arrived, how long they stayed and when they left," Shields told reporters.
Some media outlets have reported that one of the women involved is HIV-positive and did not inform the second woman, but police say they will not comment on those reports because of privacy concerns.
However, the Mounties have confirmed that one of the women is under criminal investigation because of the incident.
The duty status of all four cops involved is currently under review.
Allegations of women's rights violations
When rumours of the incident in Kamloops surfaced, the BC Civil Liberties Association slammed the local RCMP detachment for what the group described as the "abysmal condition" of women's cells.
In a press release on Monday, BCCLA director David Eby said that the group discovered huge disparities in the treatment of women and men in the station's cells during a recent visit.
"No showers, no visitors other than lawyers, no tooth-brushing for up to five days in RCMP cells. Men get daily showers, family visits, visits from advocacy groups, and running water in a fully equipped facility," Eby said.
The BCCLA also alleged that men watch women inmates even while they use the washroom, and that that no female guards are provided.
"The RCMP should have seen issues like this most recent one coming a mile away," Eby said.
The Kamloops Mounties hit back at those allegations, describing them as "inaccurate," and arguing that male and female prisoners are treated equally.
"Female prisoners are afforded the same opportunity to access the shower and hygiene products as their male counterparts," the RCMP said in a release.
"With respect to the comments surrounding family visits and visits from advocacy groups, neither male nor female prisoners are provided these visits except on very rare occasions."
However, the Mounties did acknowledge that full privacy isn't always possible in jail cells, quoting RCMP policy which states that: "Limitations of space and guard personnel will exist in some locations, necessitating opposite gender monitoring of prisoners, but, where possible and practical, reasonable effort should be made to ensure that prisoner modesty is preserved."
A troubled detachment
The four Mounties at the centre of the jailhouse-sex scandal aren't the only Kamloops RCMP members under investigation or facing allegations of misconduct.
Two more officers are currently under investigation by the Calgary Police Service after the shooting death of Wilbert Bartley on July 30.
Bartley, 50, was shot and killed after he backed his Toyota 4Runner into an unmarked RCMP minivan parked near a convenience store.
Calgary investigators say that the two plainclothes Mounties fired two shots through the SUV's windshield, hitting Bartley at least once.
Both officers involved have been placed on administrative duties while the investigation is underway. The two officers have hired lawyers, and the Calgary department is now reviewing their statements.
Another pair of Kamloops Mounties remains off regular duty while they face charges of assault for separate incidents.
Const. Ryan Sheremetta has been charged with one count of assault for allegedly punching another man in an off-duty street fight on March 7. He has been placed on administrative duties while an internal police investigation is underway.
Fellow Const. Kevin Roy has been charged with two counts of assault relating to separate arrests of male and female suspects. He has been suspended from duty with pay.
Sheremetta and Roy both appeared in Kamloops provincial court on Aug. 26. Both will make their next appearance on Sept. 30 to fix trial dates.