RICHMOND, B.C. — An RCMP officer in Richmond, B.C., has been fired after a conduct review board found he used a police database to track down and send "flirty" text messages and suggestive photos to a teenage complainant in a sex-assault case.
The decision, released Nov. 8, says former constable Brian Eden's behaviour undermined public confidence in the force. A RCMP spokeswoman said Eden has been dismissed.
"The subject member's decision to pursue contact with (the woman) via sexualized text messages (was) fundamentally at odds with the duties he clearly knew he owed a 17-year-old sexual-assault complainant," John McKinlay wrote about the officer on behalf of the RCMP's conduct board.
"It was despite this knowledge that the subject member then transmitted the egregious generic image involving a bed cover-obscured erection, and later, in what I find a highly manipulative manner, expressed his willingness to receive a picture of (the woman) while she was wearing a bathing suit."
Neither Eden nor his lawyer could be immediately reached for comment and it is unclear whether an appeal is planned.
The conduct board decision says Eden, 40 at the time, first communicated with the 17-year-old woman in January 2015 to collect a witness statement related to a sexual assault investigation.
He accessed the police database two days later to look up the same investigation "for unauthorized personal reasons," the document says.
Eden reportedly sent about 280 texts to the young woman between Feb. 1 and 11, including a shirtless photo of himself and a generic picture of a man, waist down, wearing boxer shorts, accompanied by the message: "Shhhh."
Other texts copied verbatim in the decision include Eden calling the woman a "Saucey little thing," and telling her "send a pic," "im a fan of yoga pants ... hint lol."
The exchange ended only when the woman's messages began to suggest she was thinking of killing herself and Eden was forced to call for help and identify himself, the decision says.
The document also confirms a second incident around the same time in which Eden used police records to track down and ask a woman for coffee after issuing her a traffic ticket earlier that day.
Staff Sgt. Annie Linteau, a spokeswoman for the RCMP, said Eden was suspended in February 2015 shortly after the misconduct occurred and was dismissed following last month's decision.
Eden admitted to two counts of using police data systems for personal reasons and pursuing a relationship with an underage woman he knew was the victim in a sex assault investigation. He denied that his conduct in reaching out to a woman he issued a traffic infraction violated the RCMP's code of conduct.
Mitigating factors listed in the decision included the short period of time over which the misconduct took place, Eden's otherwise positive work history as well as his devotion to the job and willingness to rehabilitate.
McKinlay dismissed Eden's argument that a "persistent depressive disorder" that began in 2010 was not adequately treated by early 2015, when the breaches occurred. The document also discusses how Eden was experiencing strain around that time due to money problems following the breakdown of a previous relationship.
The powers granted to police are considerable and the public is justified in expecting officers to observe the highest ethical and professional standards, McKinlay wrote.
"This necessarily includes the bedrock expectation that members shall only act to protect the health and safety of Canada's youth, and shall never deliberately and repeatedly exploit any vulnerable young person," he said.
— By Geordon Omand in Vancouver