Woman who was stalked by police officer ex-boyfriend says justice system failed her
Despite a police misconduct probe that found a high-ranking B.C. officer had stalked and harassed his ex-girlfriend for years, a criminal investigation into the case did not result in charges.
Staff Sgt. Andrew Walsh was the head of the detective division for the Saanich Police Department when the woman, who CTV News is calling T.B., made her report to the province's Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner in 2021. The investigation found his actions to be "egregiously serious," including repeated unwanted contact with T.B., using police databases to conduct at least 92 searches on her and her family members, and lying about it during the investigation.
The disciplinary decision said dismissal would be the only appropriate consequence. However, Walsh was not fired, he retired before that investigation concluded in 2022.
Before reporting Walsh in 2021, the woman says she thought the criminal justice system and society as a whole had made significant progress on how it treats cases like these.
"I believed that we have come a long way when it comes to women's rights, which includes protection of women who are in intimate relationships or out of intimate relationships – over and above the protection of an offender's reputation, who happens to be a male in a position of authority. I was wrong – we have not come a long way," she told CTV News, explaining why she decided to speak out.
"I'm hoping for some level of protection because it failed in the criminal justice system, in the Crown's office – it failed."
T.B., who served 30 years as a police officer herself, made a police report about Walsh's behaviour, worried for the ongoing safety of herself and her family.
The case was handled by detectives with the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP and was being investigated parallel to the misconduct complaint. Statements and other materials gathered during the misconduct investigation were shared with the detectives assigned to the criminal case.
'THEY REALLY SEEMED SURE'
As far as T.B. knows, a report to Crown counsel was submitted recommending a charge of criminal harassment in September of 2021.
"I believe they did a really thorough investigation, conducted themselves very empathetically, compassionately. They really seemed sure, I don't think they questioned whether or not it would be approved," she said.
The following March, T.B. was told Crown had declined to prosecute. Further, she was told that a Peace Bond would not be pursued. A Peace Bond – although it is made under the Criminal Code of Canada – is not a charge or conviction. It is essentially a protective order that can be granted by the court if it is satisfied a person reasonably fears for their safety, their family's safety, or that damage will be done to their property.
T.B. said one of the reasons she was given for this decision was that Walsh had not "done anything" since April of 2021, when the misconduct complaint was filed.
"He was under investigation. So of course, he didn't do anything – that we know of. One of the most upsetting things, for any victim of any crime, of any anything that's traumatizing, is to be told that you should no longer have fear," T.B. said.
She also says the months-long wait for a decision gave her the impression that her file was "languishing" on a desk.
T.B. has been trying to get a better explanation for the outcome ever since, starting with a conversation with the prosecutor who made the decision. Because of Walsh’s rank and profession, the case was sent to a prosecutor in another jurisdiction on Vancouver Island.
"I can say that that conversation, it made no sense to me. She wasn't able to explain the reasons," T.B. said. "She just kept saying, 'Well, it's my assessment. It's my assessment.'"
British Columbia is one of just two provinces in Canada where Crown counsel makes the decision to lay a charge. In other jurisdictions it is the police who do so.
According to provincial guidelines, there is a two-part test that must be met in order for a case to proceed. First, the Crown must consider whether there is a "substantial likelihood of conviction." If there is, Crown must then decide "whether the public interest requires a prosecution."
These assessment guidelines are supplemented by more specific ones for particular crimes.
In the case of criminal harassment, the guidelines begin by describing the offence itself.
"Unlike most related criminal offences (for example assault) which, by definition, involve a completed criminal act before the investigation and prosecution process begins, incidents of criminal harassment are often ongoing," the document reads.
"While the harassment does not necessarily include an explicit threat, the cumulative effect of the prohibited activity, whether it is phone calls, letters, watching and besetting, generates a growing climate of fear that can eventually emotionally debilitate the victim. The majority of these cases involve victims who have at one time been involved in a relationship with the accused."
The guidelines also say that decisions in these cases "must be expedited" because delays can be distressing to victims who are already living in fear. In addition, the policy says a Peace Bond ought to be considered whenever charges are not approved or in the event that charges are stayed.
IMPACT ON FAMILY
One of the factors that is listed as requiring consideration in these cases is whether there is evidence that the harassment included others beyond the victim, such as family members, friends or co-workers.
For T.B., this is one of the most upsetting aspects of Walsh's behaviour in her case. The misconduct investigation found that he had conducted searches in police databases on 13 people associated with her. This included her mother, her siblings, and her children. Her ex-husband and current partner were also queried, as was her deceased father.
"As a victim of this type of crime and behaviour, it's one thing if it's against you, and only you. But when it involves your family, it takes it to another level. And, of course I have to deal with blaming myself for bringing him into my family. So that's another factor," T.B. said.
After the misconduct investigation was underway, one of T.B's nieces told her Walsh had started showing up at her workplace. She recalls bursting into tears when she was told.
After she reported this to investigators, they did another search of Walsh's database queries that revealed he had searched for information about her niece, according to the disciplinary decision.
"We still don't know the extent of his actions. It's such an invasion. There's the harassment and stalking, but there's also the breach of all of our private records, repeatedly and knowingly. It's really hard to wrap your head around why someone would do that," she said.
"If somebody is asking in that way, it's very disturbing behaviour, you cannot wrap your head around it they become unpredictable, and that's where the fear comes in."
The B.C. Prosecution Service has declined to comment on the case.
"The BCPS cannot comment on the results of the police investigation in this case," a spokesperson wrote in one email.
"The BCPS will not be commenting on these matters," read another.
'SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT'
T.B. has tried to get the decision reconsidered, writing to everyone up to and including the province's attorney general and attaching all the documents detailing the now-concluded police misconduct investigation.
In an email she provided to CTV News, Murray Rankin's office says the case has been sent back to the prosecution service for review.
The BCPS would not confirm this, with the spokesperson saying in an email that no comment could be made on "any communications between the attorney general and members of the public."
T.B. says she is left with the feeling that Walsh is being protected instead of her, which is why she decided to publically share her story.
"My hope is that if the community is aware, the public is aware, that this will … act as a deterrent to this continuing for me or any of my family members," she said.
"Any women that find themselves in this position – especially when it comes to police officers who are the offenders – speak up, speak out."
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The Ottawa woman who former Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard is convicted of sexually assaulting says she is now suing him for $2.8 million.
Refugee and human-rights advocates are telling the Supreme Court of Canada that a binational pact 'contracts out' Canada's international obligations to refugee claimants to the United States, without proper followup to ensure Washington is doing the job.
A former policeman killed 34 people including 22 children in a gun rampage at a daycare centre in eastern Thailand on Thursday, later shooting dead his wife and child at their home before turning his weapon on himself, police said.
Videos of revolts and unrest started to flood the internet when Iranian protestors flocked to the streets in response to the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman allegedly detained for wearing her hijab improperly.
This fall, teachers and parents have been sharing photos on social media of do-it-yourself air purifiers that they’ve made for classrooms to help protect kids from COVID-19 — and according to researchers, these low-cost purifiers actually work.
Hockey Quebec says it has lost confidence in Hockey Canada and will not transfer funds to the national organization, while Tim Hortons and Scotiabank have extended sponsorship boycotts.
Nearly all Conservative members of Parliament voted for a bill they say would protect the conscience rights of health professionals when it comes to medical assistance in dying.
On the heels of another tense hearing with Hockey Canada's past and current board chairs defending the organization, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and MPs were unequivocal on Wednesday in their condemnation of Hockey Canada's resistance to making changes that they say are necessary.
North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters Thursday after the United States redeployed an aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula in response to Pyongyang's previous launch of a nuclear-capable missile over Japan.
Victorians lined up outside city hall on Wednesday to cast an advance vote for the next leader of the city. Across the street, those vying to be the next mayor squared off in a live debate hosted by Victoria radio station CFAX 1070.
The B.C. Conservation Officers Service (BCCOS) has confirmed that two African servals are on the loose in the Qualicum Beach area of Vancouver Island. The exotic cats have killed a domestic cat, according to the BC SPCA.
B.C. Premier John Horgan says the New Democrat government's crime-fighting agenda involves more than increasing arrests of alleged violent offenders. Horgan says he agrees with Attorney General Murray Rankin who told the legislature on Tuesday that a focus on more arrests of prolific offenders to curb crime would be “futile.”
Decisions made at a conference of international oil producers are expected to affect the crude oil market and the price of gasoline at Alberta pumps, which are already back to summer peaks.
Premier Jason Kenney, speaking a day ahead of the UCP leadership vote, said he is uncertain of his political future, but is proud of what he's done for Alberta.
Thousands of mail-in ballots in the United Conservative Party leadership vote have been rejected and now some voters are receiving phone calls and emails telling them they'll have to vote in person on Thursday.
The St. Albert RCMP held a press conference Wednesday night regarding an investigation involving a teenager who was taken into police custody Oct. 2.
Alberta’s governing United Conservative Party is scheduled pick the province’s new premier Thursday, and political observers say its next step should be getting back on the same page as the rest of the province.
Edmonton restaurants will not be allowed to serve food in styrofoam containers and plastic shopping bags will be banned starting July 1, 2023.
Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard could be sentenced today to up to 10 years in jail in the sexual assault of an Ottawa woman.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford will be making an announcement in Hamilton Thursday morning.
Hockey Quebec says it has lost confidence in Hockey Canada and will no longer transfer funds to the national organization.
Organizers of the Montreal Pride need to pay for security, communicate better, and hire more experienced staff to avoid another repeat of the devastating cancellation of the parade next year, according to a post-mortem report into the August 2022 fiasco.
The new rule allowing businesses in Canada to pass credit card fees onto customers will not apply in Quebec.
More than one-third of Winnipeggers believe people who have occupied public spaces in the city should be allowed to stay there briefly, according to a recent poll.
The Winnipeg Police Service has charged five more people after an encampment was cleared at the Manitoba legislature on Tuesday.
A mayoral debate Wednesday hosted by the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association saw four of Winnipeg’s 11 mayoral hopefuls talk crime, infrastructure and economic development.
The chief forensic pathologist for the Saskatchewan coroners service took to the stand in Saskatoon on Wednesday for the trial of Ranbir Dhull.
Following his $1 million lotto win, Rollins Head was in such a state of disbelief he checked his ticket at two different stores.
With rising inflation across the country programs that provide free food in Saskatoon are contending with unprecedented need.
Saskatchewan residents are paying more to attend live concerts, theatre performances and art gallery exhibitions following an expansion of the provincial sales tax.
A Regina woman who was convicted in 2019 for embezzling millions of dollars has been granted her appeal and a new trial has been ordered.
McKell Wascana Conservation Park is officially the Regina Wetland Centre of Excellence serving as an outdoor classroom for science students at Dr. Martin LeBoldus Catholic High School.
More than 16,000 customers in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are still without electricity 12 days after post-tropical storm Fiona hit the Maritimes on Sept. 23. The ongoing outages and restoration efforts have prompted the Nova Scotia government to declare a state of emergency in several counties in northern Nova Scotia.
Across the East Coast, emotions about the way climate change is altering life can be heard, as residents rebuild their homes after Fiona and cope with weeks without power, and political leaders are asked how they'll prepare the coastlines and power grids to meet the next gale.
Some Nova Scotians are unsure if they qualify for the federal Fiona recovery fund announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday.
London police have identified the woman who allegedly made racial comments and spat on an employee at a northwest London, Ont. business last month.
Candidates for council seats in London, Ont. are vowing they won’t be intimidated after another spate of sign-tampering on the campaign trail.
The BA.5 subvariant still accounts for more than 90 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Ontario but experts are now keeping a close eye on the spread of two other subvariants which they say could end up factoring into the next wave of the pandemic.
Two recent incidents of adults trying to lure children have North Bay and area parents and caregivers on edge.
Cambrian College in Sudbury is still offering a free dental clinic as a way to help both people in need and students in the dental hygiene program.
Candidates vying to be Sault Ste. Marie’s new mayor say a few issues appear to be top of mind for voters: homelessness, drug addiction and mental health.
The family of a man with a service dog who was forcibly removed from a Kitchener, Ont. restaurant last fall, is speaking out after assault charges against the two men involved were withdrawn.
The process to remove a truck that crashed into a building in Atwood a month ago started on Wednesday, as portions of the building were torn down to help dislodge the truck.
The Region of Waterloo is reminding business owners to start winterizing their property while avoiding over-salting surfaces.