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Mountie who had sex with 'vulnerable' woman fired in B.C.

RCMP officers in uniform are shown in this undated file photo. RCMP officers in uniform are shown in this undated file photo.
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A former Mountie in British Columbia was kicked out of the force after engaging in sex acts with a vulnerable woman – behaviour the RCMP conduct board found was "egregious" and had a "profoundly negative impact" on the victim and her family.

Const. Connor McDonald met the woman, whose identity is protected under a publication ban, when she was apprehended under the Mental Health Act and taken to hospital after she was found unconscious in August 2021, according to an agreed statement of facts.

McDonald stayed at the hospital for several hours with the woman, who was intoxicated and was known to suffer from chronic alcohol abuse, and the two engaged in personal conversations, according to conduct board adjudicator Christine Sakiris's decision published Tuesday.

The RCMP detachment where McDonald worked as a general duty officer is redacted from the board's decision.

After the woman was discharged from the hospital, McDonald took her to a mall near her home, where she bought a six-pack of beer from a liquor store. When the Mountie noticed she wasn't walking towards her home, he turned his police vehicle around and stopped her outside the store.

The two engaged in flirtatious behaviour, during which McDonald provided her with his personal cellphone number and sent her a friend request on Facebook, the board heard.

Cellphone records

McDonald searched the woman's name on CPIC, a law enforcement database, which identified her as an "emotionally disturbed person" who was apprehended due to risk of self-harm or harm to others.

In the early hours the following morning, while off-duty and driving his red Ford pickup truck, McDonald called the woman twice, according to cell tower data presented to the board. The second call was from a location halfway between the police detachment and her home, according to the data.

McDonald later deleted all record of the calls from his phone, the board heard.

Sakiris found the Mountie visited the woman at her home between 3:35 a.m. and 4:14 a.m., and the two had sex.

Victim impact statement

The woman, who was found dead the following year, did not provide a victim impact statement in the case. However, her sister described a life of repeated traumas that began in childhood and left her with an inability to trust others.

"The one exception to her lack of trust was police officers," the sister wrote. "She had many dealings with first responders over the course of her life and was always treated with dignity and respect by police, regardless of her condition at the time of her encounters. For this reason she felt they were the only ones she could be sure would never harm her."

Speaking specifically of her sister's interactions with McDonald, and the ensuing investigation, she said it "caused further trauma as she began experiencing severe anxiety, and expressed how it was bringing her back to when she was subject to court processes related to the sexual assault she endured when she was a child."

"My sister was in a tail spin and the more she drank, the less she felt," the sister added.

Evidence from the Mountie

McDonald did not provide a statement to investigators during the code of conduct complaint, nor did he testify at the hearing.

He did provide a two-sentence note from a counsellor, confirming he had begun one-on-one counselling sessions more than two months after his interactions with the complainant.

He also submitted positive performance assessments to the board, as well as a letter of support from his supervising sergeant, who expressed willingness to welcome him back to work with the RCMP.

"I recognize that Const. McDonald has had a good performance record in his two years of active service with the RCMP, that he has no prior discipline in that short time and that, on some level, he has the support of his supervisor," Sakiris said.

However, she noted "it is not clear that [the sergeant] was fully aware of the nature of the allegation before me."

In ordering the Mountie dismissed from the RCMP, the adjudicator found McDonald breached the force's code of conduct when he engaged in sexual acts with a vulnerable person.

"Public confidence in the force would be undermined by Const. McDonald’s continued employment. As such, his misconduct falls in the most aggravated range," Sakiris said.

"The public cannot be asked to bear the risk of this behaviour repeating itself."

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