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
Jaqueline McDermott, 22, from Kitchener has been reported missing in B.C., and her family is putting out a plea across the country for help. McDermott was last seen by her vehicle after attending a meditation retreat. RCMP said her vehicle was found, but she was not in it or near it.
Cases of COVID-19 are increasing across the country again as fall progresses and winter approaches. But this respiratory pathogen season is different than last year's, experts say, so the public's approach should be different as well.
Wood from primary forests in British Columbia has been used to fuel the U.K.'s largest power plant, according to a BBC investigation; the company denies the allegations.
The Toronto Blue Jays' first foe in the playoffs is now official.
Scientists have uncovered an association between tumours and fungi, which may lead to a deeper understanding towards the biology of certain cancers.
The Invasive Species Council of B.C. is asking the public to report sightings of a 'highly toxic' plant that can leave people's skin blistered and burned – something one family recently learned the hard way.
Public safety minister defends Canada's proposed firearms legislation, says it's needed to end gun violence
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told a House of Commons committee Tuesday that Bill C-21, the proposed legislation to further restrict access to handguns in Canada, is critical to ending gun violence.
A California serial killer seems to be 'on a mission' throughout the fatal shooting of six men and the wounding of one woman dating back to last year.
Russian troops abandoned a key Ukrainian city so rapidly that they left the bodies of their comrades in the streets, offering more evidence Tuesday of Moscow's latest military defeat as it struggles to hang on to four regions of Ukraine that it illegally annexed last week.
More arrests are “futile,” British Columbia's attorney general says as he rebuffed criticism of government policies on repeat offenders and violent crime across the province. Murray Rankin told the legislature on Tuesday that increasing arrests is not the answer to battle crime.
Canadian naval officer relieved of her duties after allegations of inappropriate conduct on NATO mission
A Canadian naval officer has been relieved of her duties aboard a coastal defence vessel deployed on a NATO operation in Europe over allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct.
'It came in straight through the master bedroom': Transport truck slams into home in Nanoose Bay, B.C.
A transport truck driver was airlifted to hospital Monday after his truck slammed through a home in Nanoose Bay, B.C., narrowly missing residents.
Calgary police are looking to the public for help to identify a woman who was found dead in the city over the summer.
A Calgary father has been sentenced to two years in prison for failing to provide the necessaries of life for his severely disabled adult son.
Two homes were damaged on Tuesday evening after a truck lost control in a southwest Calgary neighbourhood.
A woman in Edmonton has been accused of fraudulently posing as a medical doctor. Rossemarie Castro Rosales, 36, advertised massage therapy, holistic therapies and "quasi-medical techniques" under the name Dr. Marie Milne, police say.
A 25-year-old lifeguard has been charged following the 2020 drowning of a 34-year-old man at a Fort McMurray rec complex.
Two Edmonton Police Service officers were in provincial court Monday morning where one of them took the stand to describe the sexual assault she claims the other committed against her.
A Canadian Tire employee in Hamilton says he was Tasered by police while suffering from an epileptic seizure earlier this week.
A Toronto police officer has been seriously injured after being struck by a vehicle in a Scarborough parking lot as an arrest was being made in the area.
The Toronto Blue Jays' first foe in the playoffs is now official.
Excluding the CAQ, Quebec's major provincial parties received similar results between them in terms of popular support. But the same can't be said for the number of seats they won.
Francois Legault has been elected for a second mandate as Quebec premier with a majority government. Within eight minutes of the polls closing across the province at 8 p.m. EST, CTV News declared Coalition Avenir Québec has secured a resounding win in the Quebec legislature.
The Coalition Avenir Quebec, led by Francois Legault, won a second consecutive majority mandate in Monday's election. Here are five things to watch out for as the CAQ leader prepares to name his new cabinet and begins to make good on his party's election promises.
Provincial staff are dismantling an encampment on the Manitoba Legislature grounds after Winnipeg police brought some encampment members into custody.
A semi-truck driver from Ontario has been sentenced under the Highway Traffic Act for his role in a fatal collision three years ago on the Trans-Canada Highway near Falcon Lake in Whiteshell Provincial Park, that killed Mark and Jacob Lugli.
Police are searching for three suspects who they say kidnapped a senior and ran over another man while stealing a truck and camper on a Manitoba highway.
Another person accused in the presumed death of a missing Saskatoon woman has a previous conviction for an impaired driving death.
Robert Schimpf, an expert from RCMP’s national forensic lab in Edmonton, took the stand in Ranbir Dhull’s trial on Tuesday.
A mine worker remains in hospital with serious injuries after a piece of tunnel roof fell on top of him while working underground at a potash mine southwest of Saskatoon.
Lorna Standingready knows how it feels when a loved one goes missing. Her 14-year-old great-granddaughter disappeared last winter.
'I don't think there's going to be any trades': O'Day claims Riders have no trades ahead of deadline
The Canadian Football League (CFL) trade deadline on Wednesday, Oct. 5 is approaching fast. However, the Saskatchewan Roughriders claim to have plans to make any roster moves at the moment.
Saskatchewan residents may have noticed a peak in gas prices over the past week. Dan McTeague, president of Canada for Affordable Energy said that’s a common trend across the country right now.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that the federal government is setting up a $300-million 'Hurricane Fiona recovery fund' to help Atlantic Canadians rebuild from the deadly and destructive post-tropical storm.
More than 15,000 Maritimers are still without power 11 days after post-tropical storm Fiona hit the region.
Climate experts say the after-effects of post-tropical storm Fiona make up a new reality on Canada's East Coast -- a reality driven by climate change.
'My pride stands in my way of asking my family for help': Man deals with being evicted from a woodland encampment
City officials say compassion and care is key to their response to homelessness, but health and safety also have to be factored in. All of those issues were front and centre as crews began dismantling an encampment on the west edge of downtown London, Ont. on Tuesday.
Fiddlers Green Road is normally a quiet street, according to local residents. But it was anything but quiet on Monday night when the area was a beehive of activity with police and emergency vehicles.
Some of London, Ont.’s founding families are buried just feet from fugitive slave owners who fled their plantations. Brian Martin, author of a new book, says his findings reveal a fuller picture of Canada’s complex history as a refuge for people escaping slavery, and as a safe haven for some slave owners.
In a startling development, incumbent Sudbury mayor Brian Bigger is withdrawing from the municipal election race, citing family reasons.
A 'Sisters in Spirit Vigil' was held at the Timmins Native Friendship Centre on Tuesday to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two spirit and gender-diverse people.
Literacy Nipissing in North Bay celebrated its official grand reopening, a major milestone after the learning centre burnt down in 2020.
In early September, the University of Guelph told students about what they are calling a disruption to the IT system.
As the municipal election looms, candidate signs become a common sight, but with a tightened regional bylaw limiting where signs can be placed, there are far fewer.
Charges withdrawn against brothers accused of assaulting customer in family's Kitchener, Ont. restaurant
The charges against two brothers accused of assaulting a customer with a service dog at a Kitchener, Ont. restaurant have been withdrawn.