VANCOUVER - A civilian employee of the RCMP has filed a B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit alleging a top-down culture of sexual harassment within the force was so pervasive it couldn't be stopped.
Atoya Montague's civil lawsuit details sexual harassment from a superintendent, staff sergeant, sergeant and other members the force, but it specifically names high-profile Insp. Tim Shields as its focus, claiming he subjected her to on-going harassment and sexual harassment.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday, also names the Attorney General of Canada and B.C.'s minister of Justice. It outlines a series of grievances ranging from outright sexual harassment to complaints of working overtime without pay and being paid $40,000 less than a male colleague in the same job.
None of the allegations have been proven in court and Shields hasn't responded with a statement of defence. Shields and the RCMP were unavailable for comment late Thursday afternoon.
Montague's statement of claim alleges Shields propositioned her in a vehicle when they were diving to Barriere, B.C., in August 2003 to drop off supplies for victims of a wildfire.
"While driving and in control of the vehicle, the defendant, Shields, showed the plaintiff his erection through his jean shorts and made sexual advances towards the plaintiff, asking the plaintiff to have sex with him and advising her that he could easily pull the car over so that he could perform oral sex on her," the lawsuit states.
The actions left her in "absolute shock," the lawsuit says, saying Shields abused his position of trust and rank over her.
"He further took advantage of the fact that he was in total control of the vehicle and the plaintiff was the captive passenger."
Five years later, Shields was promoted to take charge of the RCMP's strategic communication unit and she reported directly to him.
The lawsuit states he made similar unwanted sexual advances towards her in July 2008 in his police car.
"On this occassion he showed the plaintiff his penis," the lawsuit states.
"Shields' misconduct was malicious and wilful and he acted solely with the intention of sexual gratification, which sexually humiliated the plaintiff and demeaned her value as (a) civilian member of the RCMP and as a human being."
She claims in the lawsuit that Shields regularly made remarks about her breasts, expressed interested in having sex with her and sent her sexually explicit tests messages.
"Shields inquired of the plaintiff if she had ever told anybody about the incident in 2003," the lawsuit states. "He advised the plaintiff he would get in big trouble if anyone ever found out, saying that the RCMP took sexual harassment seriously."
Montague doesn't identify any other members by name, simply using ranks or initials, but makes several references to humiliating or demeaning behaviour by members.
While in Ottawa to attend meetings at the RCMP's public relations headquarters in 2004, a Staff Sgt. W. invited her to his room for a drink, and when she arrived Montague alleges he was "wearing nothing but a swimsuit," and asked her to have some wine. Montague says she left because she felt the request was inappropriate and she felt uncomfortable.
Montague alleges a Supt. B. sat next to her during an April 2005 social event at a conference in Parksville, B.C., moved closer and then placed his hand on her thigh. She says she was shocked and embarrassed but didn't want to make a fuss and didn't know what to do.
She alleges another incident occurred in March 2007 event with police dogs.
"At the end of the day the plaintiff was surrounded by male police dog section members making sexually suggestive comments, taunting and literally, physically circling the plaintiff, pushing and rubbing up against her and requesting the plaintiff to join them in their social event later that evening," the lawsuit states.
"The plaintiff was terrified, literally running away from that encounter."
The lawsuit alleges the sexual harassment began even before she formally started with the work.
She alleges Staff Sgt. L. told her after her interview "there would be a lineup of men out the door" when she began work, and the same staff sergeant referred to her and other women in the unit routinely as "Charlie's Angels."
Montague's suit also outlines a litany of workplace complaints.
She says she spent two years being expected to work evenings and weekends without extra pay, though other RCMP members were given overtime.
She says when she began work with the Vancouver Integrated 2010 Security Unit for the Olympics, she was appointed director of communications, but she was given a cleaned-out closet for an office. While with the unit, the lawsuit says she would attempt to contribute to a meeting but would be ignored. Later, her suit says, a male colleague would propose the same idea and be congratulated for it.
She describes the 2010 security unit as an "oppressive boys club."
She says in the suit she later found out the RCMP human resources department messed up her paperwork so her promotion and the resulting increase in pay were never properly documented.
Montague, who's been on sick leave for two years, claims she has post-traumatic stress disorder and is suing for damages and loss of income and earning capacity.
This is another of several harassment lawsuits filed against the RCMP.
Also on HuffPost:
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson has the job of cleaning up the Mounties' internal disciplinary process. Mounties have repeatedly written the commissioner saying they <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/16/rcmp-resergeance-alliance_n_1788863.html" target="_hplink">disapprove of the job he's doing</a>, drawing <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/10/rcmp-emails-reveal-tension-bob-paulson-tim-chad_n_1763453.html" target="_hplink">sharp rebukes</a> from the tough-talking commissioner.
RCMP Cpl. Catherine Galliford was once the public face of the Missing Women's Task Force. She <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/05/09/bc-galliford-civil-claim.html" target="_hplink">filed a lawsuit against the RCMP</a>, alleging she was harassed, bullied and abused.
Former RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2006/12/06/zaccardelli.html" target="_hplink">resigned after admitting he gave incorrect testimony</a> to an inquiry looking into the Maher Arar affair.
RCMP Sgt. Maj. Hugh Stewart took on the nickname "Sergeant Pepper" for <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/1999/10/25/apec2991025.html" target="_hplink">pepper-spraying protesters</a> at the 1997 APEC Summit at UBC. He became particularly famous after pepper-spraying a CBC cameraman.
In 2008 the RCMP were accused of <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/518193--rcmp-to-review-funding-research-against-insite" target="_hplink">misusing public funds</a> to pay for studies aimed at undermining the legitimacy of InSite, a safe injection facility in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Benjamin 'Monty' Robinson
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/07/20/benjamin-monty-robinson-rcmp_n_1690216.html" target="_hplink">Benjamin "Monty" Robinson</a> resigned from the RCMP after a string of incidents including a conviction for obstruction of justice after he hit and killed a motorcyclist then went home and drank vodka to "calm his nerves." He still faces a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/12/26/dziekanski-perjury-trial-taser-death_n_1169854.html" target="_hplink">perjury trial</a> for his role in the 2007 Taser incident that resulted in the death of Robert Dziekanski.
Robert Dziekanski died after being Tasered by a group of RCMP officers at Vancouver International Airport. A <a href="http://www.braidwoodinquiry.ca/report/" target="_hplink">public inquiry</a> later determined that Mounties were not justified in using Tasers to subdue the Polish immigrant, who appeared erratic and nervous after 10 hours of waiting to be picked up from the airport. A <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/12/26/dziekanski-perjury-trial-taser-death_n_1169854.html" target="_hplink">perjury trial</a> concerning the officers involved is still pending.
The first civilian commissioner of the RCMP from 2007 to 2011, Elliott's management style was criticized by senior officers who suggested he needed to anger management training. He <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/02/04/elliott-rcmp.html" target="_hplink">resigned in February 2011</a>.
Highway Of Tears
Meghan Rhoad (pictured here) of Human Rights Watch was lead researcher for a report that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/13/highway-of-tears-human-rights-watch-rcmp-rape_n_2675398.html?utm_hp_ref=canada" target="_hplink">levelled blistering allegations against the RCMP</a> for its alleged treatment of indigenous women. The report alleged that RCMP officers raped and abused aboriginals in British Columbia.
The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/14/rcmp-watchdog-report-bullying_n_2687077.html?utm_hp_ref=canada" target="_hplink">RCMP has a bullying problem</a> that needs to be addressed by better training and record-keeping, said a report released by the force's watchdog group. The report released 718 harassment complaints filed between 2005 and 2011 and about <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/14/rcmp-watchdog-report-bullying_n_2687077.html?utm_hp_ref=canada" target="_hplink">90 per cent of the complaints involved bullying</a>, CBC reported.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/14/rcmp-ottawa-child-abuse_n_2688293.html" target="_hplink">An unidentified Ottawa RCMP officer</a> is facing multiple charges after a child abuse investigation. The 41-year-old man is charged with three counts of aggravated assault, three counts of assault with weapon, one count of aggravated sexual assault, one count of failing to provide the necessities of life and one count of forcible confinement.