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
Canadians in Russia who hold dual citizenship should leave the country immediately or risk being conscripted for mandatory military service, the Government of Canada is warning.
Canada is headed for a 'severe' and 'almost inevitable' recession in early 2023, according to the head of economics at Macquarie Group, which states Canada will face an approximately three per cent contraction in gross domestic product and a five per cent rise in its unemployment rate during the predicted recession.
Ceremonies, marches and other gatherings are taking place across the country Friday as communities mark the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. The federal statutory holiday was established last year to remember children who died while being forced to attend residential schools, as well as those who survived, and the families and communities still affected by lasting trauma.
A revived Hurricane Ian pounded coastal South Carolina on Friday, ripping apart piers and flooding streets after the ferocious storm caused catastrophic damage in Florida, trapping thousands in their homes and leaving at least 17 people dead.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties Friday to illegally annex more occupied Ukrainian territory in a sharp escalation of his war. Ukraine's president countered with a surprise application to join the NATO military alliance.
As Russia's war in Ukraine enters a flammable, even more dangerous phase, analysis from the Associated Press on CTVNews.ca looks at whether a wider war is looming with devastating results for the world, perhaps not seen since 1939-1945.
Russia vetoed a UN resolution Friday that would have condemned its referendums in four Ukrainian regions as illegal, declared them invalid and urged all countries not to recognize any annexation of the territory claimed by Moscow.
Exposure to air pollution increases the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization by up to 30 per cent for fully vaccinated patients, according to a new study.
For the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, CTVNews.ca spoke to several Indigenous leaders about feelings around the day more than a year since the suspected gravesites made world news, and in the weeks following Queen Elizabeth II death that took over the news cycle during a month when decolonization is meant to be top of mind.
An international whale watching and conservation group says some of its members came across a rare and dramatic encounter between orcas and humpbacks off Vancouver Island this week.
While Carmen Spagnola puts a lot of effort into making and tending to her flower garden, the same couldn’t be said for growing her first pumpkin. "It felt like this random miracle that just happened," Carmen smiles.
Langford celebrated the opening of an innovative new residential building Thursday at 2830 Peatt Rd.
Indigenous community members and their allies gathered in Morley, Alta., on Friday to recognize the intergenerational traumas of Canada’s residential school system.
The nerves were high for Tsuaki Marule as she sang O Canada in front of thousands of fans at the Toronto Blue Jays game on Friday.
Calgarians gathered to remember, educate and listen on Friday for the country's second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The province unveiled images of a new permanent statue to be placed on Alberta legislature grounds that will honour residential school survivors and the children that never made it home.
Edmonton Police are investigating after a pedestrian was killed on Fort Road Thursday night.
A meteorite with special significance is being returned to Indigenous people after more than 100 years.
Peel police continue to negotiate with an individual who has been barricaded inside a medical facility in Mississauga since Friday morning.
Dolores (McLeod) Naponse, hopes that her presence at a Toronto Blue Jays game will spark important conversation.
With sunrise ceremonies, Indigenous songs and moments of reflection, communities across Ontario marked the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on Friday.
The Parti Québécois (PQ) has suspended a candidate because of his comments about Islam and women who wear a religious veil.
A 27-year-old man was stabbed and killed early Friday morning and another man was stabbed and is recovering in hospital in a violent night on Montreal streets.
'We will come together': Montrealers, Indigenous advocates march for second National Truth and Reconciliation Day
A march through Montreal's downtown core was among the events, ceremonies, and speeches marking the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Former students of Assiniboia Residential School were honoured Friday at the unveiling of a commemorative monument and gathering place on Academy Road.
A memorial sculpture honouring those lost and affected by the residential school system is giving Winnipeggers a new gathering place for truth and reconciliation.
Emergency crews were on the scene of a multi-vehicle collision at the corner of Portage Avenue and the Perimeter Highway Friday.
Shirley Isbister had trouble believing her eyes Friday as she stood at the bottom of Victoria Park in Saskatoon watching more than 1,000 people dressed in orange shirts pour in from the street above for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
More than four thousand people attended the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) Pow Wow and Concert at SaskTel Centre on Friday.
Newly appointed president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Alika Lafontaine shares what the organization plans to do in helping save the country’s collapsing health-care system.
Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty hosted an event for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at the Residential School Memorial on the grounds of Government House in Regina.
Downtown Regina was host to a memorial walk Friday morning, acting as one part of the many gatherings for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in the Queen City.
'I still struggle': Residential school survivors share stories during National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
People in Regina gathered at the Eagle Heart Centre on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. For the community it's a time to acknowledge.
Employees who have suffered wage losses due to the destruction of post-tropical storm Fiona on Prince Edward Island are set to benefit from a new program by the provincial government.
‘The truth hurts but it also heals’: Halifax recognizes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Drums and singing could be heard at the Grand Parade in Halifax as many gathered in orange to honour residential school survivors and those who never returned home.
Major clean-up efforts continue in Cape Breton on Friday as many on the island remain in the dark.
'I met with residential school survivors for inspiration': Indigenous murals unveiled in downtown London, Ont.
A panel of seven Indigenous murals was unveiled in downtown London, Ont. on Truth and Reconciliation Day.
Veronica Ninham wipes away tears as she listens to speakers talk about the pain of relatives who attended residential schools.
Hospital officials are informing the public of a temporary Emergency Department closure at Walkerton hospital.
Communities across northern Ontario are marking National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – also known as Orange Shirt Day – with ceremonies and events recognizing the impact of the Canadian Indian residential school system.
It was an emotional day on Nipissing First Nation as a survivor shared her deeply personal experience attending a northern Ontario residential school on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Ontario's ninth Indigenous university officially opened in Sault Ste. Marie across from a former residential school on National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
Kitchener’s first Artist-in-Residence plans to share stories of underrepresented voices through portraits
The City of Kitchener announced, earlier this month, that Bangishimo Johnston would be the 2022 Artist-in-Residence.
A growing garden in Breslau, aimed at nurturing relationships and reconciliation, is now ready for harvest.
Songs of determination and steps of solidarity filled the streets of downtown Kitchener Friday morning, marking the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.