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This is what rape culture looks like
July 18, 2012 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Cpl. Catherine Galliford of Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police first spoke out against sustained and widespread sexual harrassment by her superior officers in November of last year and launched a lawsuit in May 2012. Yesterday, the federal government of Canada and the provincial government of British Columbia issued a categorical denial of Galliford's charges.

Galliford's claims were as shocking as they were comprehensive, alleging that during the investigation into Vancouver's missing and murdered women which eventually convicted Robert Pickton, investigators watched porn instead of working and one male colleague told Galliford he fantasized about seeing Pickton truss her up like a pig. Galliford, who served as RCMP spokesperson for the high-profile Air India bombing and Pickton trials, now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has been on medical leave from the force since 2007.

Galliford's allegations incited several other female RCMP officers to come forward and give their own experiences of sexual harrassment. At least four more lawsuits have been lodged aginst the RCMP, supporting Galliford's claims that the RCMP suffers from a "pervasive" culture of sexual harassment.

However, the mounting evidence against Canada's national police force didn't stop the governments of British Columbia and Canada from dismissing Galliford's allegations point-by-point. The governments highlighted Galliford's alleged alcoholism and disputed the diagnosis that she had contracted PTSD. They argued that if any sexual contact occured (which they deny), it was consensual. The governments claim that any accusations of sexual harrassment were investigated immediately and deny that any culture of harrassment exists in the force.
posted by Catchfire (39 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
So Canada's rebuttal is to call her a crazy drunk bitch? Good job keeping it classy up there guys.
posted by ZaneJ. at 10:08 AM on July 18, 2012 [21 favorites]


They argued that if any sexual contact occured (which they deny), it was consensual.

Let's explore the logic of that...

"If the car your claiming was stolen from your property found its way into my garage, which it most certainly did not... It's because I bought it. No, I don't have a receipt. Why would I?"
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:11 AM on July 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's amazing how stupid the people who run these organisations can be.

Because the eventual result after the inevitable chorus of infuriated hundreds of current and former officers who will back up Galliford's claims will simply to make both the RCMP and Feds look not only like morons, but like incompetent idiots.

It's going to be so much worse than if they'd just fess up and say, "hey wow, she's right, there's some bad stuff happening that we weren't paying enough attention to, we absolutely need to put a stop to it, and here's how we're going to handle it [produces fifteen page comprehensive policy document]".
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:16 AM on July 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, the RCMP has some problems. I was a little shocked to hear their "if anything happened, which it didn't, but if it did it was consensual" line on the radio this morning. Just seems really strange to issue a categorical denial and then hedge it like that.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:17 AM on July 18, 2012


Is this a standard legal procedure, or is it exactly as evil as it sounds? Frankly I suspect the latter.
posted by klanawa at 10:18 AM on July 18, 2012


This post puts this in a whole other light.
posted by brina at 10:19 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which BC and federal MLAs/MPs have recently introduced, even as private member's bills, legislative reform of the RCMP (or, in the case of the MLAs, reform of the RCMP's contracts)? To whom do I, as a citizen of BC, address my outrage?

The 'bad apple' defense is wearing thinner and thinner, and the police have less and less support and respect as a result. The RCMP should reform itself; Canada deserves a better police force than it has.
posted by Fraxas at 10:21 AM on July 18, 2012


The Mounties are really out of control, with stories of unacceptable indiscipline and downright brutality, often tinged with sexualized weirdness, surfacing every week it seems. It's so clearly a top-down cultural issue, yet attempts to clean it up have been so half-hearted and insincere. I think the only sort of wake-up call that will get through is if BC, which has a disproportionate amount of its policing down by the RCMP, forms its own Provincial police (cf. Alberta, Ontario) and kicks the Mounties out. That would get their attention.

Also, in theory having the Mounties contract to do small town policing escapes one from the downfall of cheapskate, poorly trained, nepotistic micro-police forces. But when communities like Surrey, population 450,000, second largest jurisdiction in the province, keep the Mounties on then I think it also allows a sort of complacency and padding in the Mounties core mission. They'd be much better off specializing in rural and small town policing and let the cities look after themselves.
posted by Rumple at 10:23 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Reform? I think that ship has left. How about "disband"?
posted by Catchfire at 10:23 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like Due South was lying to me all those years.
posted by chundo at 10:28 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is this a standard legal procedure, or is it exactly as evil as it sounds? Frankly I suspect the latter.

I know nothing about Canadian legal procedure, but filing an answer denying the allegations in a complaint would be standard legal procedure for any large American organization that was sued. Even if they were sure they were in the wrong and going to settle, you'd expect them to deny the allegations this early on in the litigation. For that reason, I'm not sure why the denial is news; the allegations, sure, but the fact that the defendant in a civil suit says they're not liable? Not really news.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:30 AM on July 18, 2012


I'm not sure why the denial is news; the allegations, sure, but the fact that the defendant in a civil suit says they're not liable? Not really news.

This isn't Coca-Cola. It's the national and provincial police force of two governments upholding rape culture so that they can avoid getting sued (as much) while paying lip service to fantasies like "reform" and "change."

I, respectfully, consider that news.
posted by Catchfire at 10:32 AM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


With great power comes great responsibility damn well better come great regulation and oversight or abuse is guaranteed.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:34 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


How is this "rape culture"? It sounds like it's more of a "good old boys club".
posted by taumeson at 10:39 AM on July 18, 2012


And how are the two different?
posted by Billiken at 10:44 AM on July 18, 2012 [17 favorites]


And how are the two different?

Yeah, How is this "good old boys club" pretty much means "rape culture." They are like symbiotic.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:47 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Spin.
posted by Mitheral at 10:48 AM on July 18, 2012


Is this a standard legal procedure, or is it exactly as evil as it sounds? Frankly I suspect the latter.

Enh, it's pretty standard. Probably, there's a bit missing from the reporting on that. I suspect that the defence statement would say something more along the lines of 'we deny that any sexual contact occured; and if in the unlikely event it is found to have occured, then it would have been consensual'. It's not so much a legal contradiction as it is a failsafe. (Which is to say nothing about the merits of that defence.)

Personally, I was struck by the allegations of alcoholism being thrown out there. It's trite law now in human rights issues, which governmental agencies are keenly aware of, that alcoholism is a medical disability. So blaming her conduct on a medical disability is a Bad Move for her employers, not even getting into the possibility that that medical disability may have been brought about by her workplace environment. It's a total loser of a defence.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:52 AM on July 18, 2012


I feel like Due South was lying to me all those years.

Not really. Fraser was thrown out of Canada by corrupt Mounties.
posted by zamboni at 10:54 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It feels like all that's really happened here is the plaintiff has filed suit saying one thing happened, and the defendant has responded saying another thing happened. Is there really more to add before the case has been argued and a determination of guilt made?

If what Cpl. Galliford alleges is true than I hope they not only punish the people involved but turn the whole force upside down so it doesn't happen again. I'm a firm believer that rape culture exists and know the trauma it inflicts on victims of sexual harassment and assault. But right now it just sounds like allegations going every which way.

One way or another, she's very brave.
posted by dry white toast at 11:03 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Always a pleasure to see the Bart Simpson defense in actual litigation: "I didn't do it. Nobody saw me do it. You can't prove anything."

And by "Always a pleasure," I mean, of course, "Grow the fuck up, humanity."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:04 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Because the eventual result after the inevitable chorus of infuriated hundreds of current and former officers who will back up Galliford's claims will simply to make both the RCMP and Feds look not only like morons, but like incompetent idiots. "

If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck..
posted by dobie at 11:25 AM on July 18, 2012


Is this a standard legal procedure, or is it exactly as evil as it sounds?

I think the problem is that it's both.
posted by Et3rnalCynic at 1:21 PM on July 18, 2012


Wow, they say that she "rejected the RCMP's efforts to keep her away from one of the men she alleged harassed her."? Is that related to the bit where they mention "she repeatedly requested to be posted to the RCMP's B.C. headquarters, despite the force's concerns the two officers should not be working together"?

So it sounds like they think she shouldn't be allowed to work at headquarters because there's a guy there who can't be trusted to behave inappropriately? Kick him the fuck out then.
posted by jacalata at 1:35 PM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dudley Do-Wrong. I expect Nell to be a key witness. As well as his horse.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:42 PM on July 18, 2012


jacalata, unfortunately that's standard practice: if someone complains, transfer the complainant. The effect is to prevent people from complaining, of course.
posted by mek at 3:12 PM on July 18, 2012


If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck...

…it is reliably assumed to be a duck. Even when it isn't. A point which is not lost on the thousands who earn millions, often from taxpayers, in out of court settlements for false allegations, in a system in which it is often cheaper to settle than fight.

I have no idea what the facts are in this case. And neither do you. I do know that men and women's lives get ruined by sexual harassment. I also know that men and women's lives get ruined by false allegations of sexual harassment and, moreover, many times that process starts with some variation of "If it looks like a duck, and quacks like duck, dot dot dot".

I also know that playing the devil's advocate in feminist issues is to get an instant "misogynist" red card, and I suspect I will end up here getting treated as the advocate for the RCMP's position. To save you typing, I'm not and I won't respond to anything that mistakes me as such.
posted by falcon at 1:58 AM on July 19, 2012


Thank god you're not a misogynist! I was worried there for a minute. You know, based on what you wrote.
posted by Catchfire at 8:11 AM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, indeed. Writing (as I did) in scrupulously gender neutral terms is not enough to avoid that. "Gynocentric" is the default setting in today's intellectual climate. So it becomes necessary to declare your neutrality explicitly in any statement that doesn't convey the impression of full throated acceptance of the gynocentric viewpoint.
posted by falcon at 9:49 AM on July 19, 2012


The anti-RCMP bias which is evident in this post (and BC and Canada more generally) has nothing to do with "gynocentrism;" it has to do with a historical trend of abuse of power and a long-standing reputation as a backwards, unaccountable paramilitary organization. This has come to a head in a number of recent incidents, not least of which is the infamous Robert Dziekański tragedy; most recently in BC an RCMP transfer of a problem officer was met with widespread disapproval.

Any percieved "gynocentrism" is, I'm afraid, your own issue. And linking to an MRA site about false allegations? Stay classy.
posted by mek at 10:34 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


If anyone is deeply interested in the subject of RCMP culture, the recent documentary Mounties Under Fire is highly recommended.
posted by mek at 10:39 AM on July 19, 2012


And linking to an MRA site about false allegations? Stay classy.

Thanks - of course you wouldn't have asserted that the link was not classy merely because it was an MRA site - that would be gynocentric. So you will have read it, and be able to give examples (in context) to support that view. Would you care to?

I'm interested, because the reference happens to be a well regarded legal guide for considering the factors involved in determining false allegations (which the Mens Aid republish), and directly supports the alleged victim in the OP. For example:
Given the many reasons for doing so, it is understandable and perhaps even inevitable that complainant will often make inconsistent or untrue statements about their assault. However, many investigators and others have mistakenly concluded on this basis that the entire allegation is false
and
For example, the general public often view with suspicion any claims of sexual assault made when the complainant and suspect knew each other, especially if there was a prior sexual relationship, if the complainant delayed reporting, and if the complainant did not describe either physical resistance or violence/weapons used by the suspect. It is completely inappropriate to use these characteristics as reasons for doubting the validity of a sexual assault claim.
The plaintiff would regard that as pretty classy, so I'm looking forward to understanding what you object to about it.

The reason I offered the reference was because the suggestion that something that sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck, is therefore a duck, in a thread about a person who cohabits with their co-workers, refuses treatment for alcoholism, then files for assault, is precisely the approach we should hope the Court does not take.

Forgive me if I've misunderstood anything here.
posted by falcon at 12:29 PM on July 19, 2012


Ths is a civil, not criminal matter: the standard of proof is that of the "balance of probabilities", not that of "beyond a reasonable doubt". A guide to false allegations based on the example of a criminal complaint of rape is not useful in understanding how this civil lawsuit will be interpreted by the court. There is no criminal complaint here.
posted by mek at 12:59 PM on July 19, 2012


It is useful, however, in understanding how this civil lawsuit will be (mis)interpreted by the general public - the body you would like to persuade that there has been a historical trend of abuse of power and a long-standing reputation as a backwards, unaccountable paramilitary organisation - who generally don't care about the distinction.
posted by falcon at 1:11 PM on July 19, 2012


Sorry, I wasn't trying to express my own personal agenda, but rather on-the-ground sentiment in BC as I have perceived it. The press are generally eager to attack the RCMP, and a lot of people distrust them for the reasons I've outlined. Galliford is also a very sympathetic figure, because she is well-known from her work as RCMP spokesperson. People are largely not writing off Galliford's allegations as false; on the contrary they're generally horrified by the response of the RCMP.
posted by mek at 1:29 PM on July 19, 2012


Are you arguing that cohabiting with a co-worker indemnifies them and the employer from all charges and accusations of assault later, or are you bringing up something irrelevant just like RCMP appears to have done? Is the latter, why? If the former, forget I said anything, I don't want to talk to you.
posted by jacalata at 1:30 PM on July 19, 2012


I believe I have argued that women are the victims of sexual assault and false allegations of sexual harassment, and that jumping to conclusions based on appearances is an unhelpful habit of mind to encourage.

In other words - neither of the choices you invite me to choose between.
posted by falcon at 2:16 PM on July 19, 2012


Is this a standard legal procedure, or is it exactly as evil as it sounds?

IAAL in Canada (though not BC) and yes, this is standard legal procedure.

Briefly: a legal pleading is, in essence, a statement of the facts you intend to prove to support your claim (or to defend the claim being brought against you). If you don't plead something, you can be precluded from raising it, or even - depending on the nature of the claim - obtaining information about it.

Problem is, in many situations when you are drafting your pleadings you have only scratched the surface of evidence gathering - you know the basic details giving rise to the claim but the bulk of the information will not come out until discovery. In other words, you are sort of guessing at what you might uncover and what might be relevant to establishing your claim.

In practice this creates a sort of a shotgun approach: you allege all sorts of things and see what sticks. Similarly, when defending, you deny everything on the chance that the plaintiff won't be able to prove what they are alleging; you also plead a broad range of facts which could rebut the allegations if proven (ex: the plaintiff was intoxicated/mentally ill/incompetent/etc.) so that if any of those things were true, you can obtain that evidence and rely on it.

I'm oversimplifying a bit, but that's the short version. There are of course procedures for amending pleadings, but they usually involve court motions and with that, risk and expense. It's easier to deny and/or allege everything at the outset.
posted by AV at 6:48 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Update on one of the other lawsuits mentioned in the final link of the OP:
Hundreds of current and former female Mounties have come forward from across Canada to join a class-action lawsuit alleging harassment within the ranks of the RCMP.

Lawyers expected dozens of women to contact them with allegations after Janet Merlo, a 19-year veteran of the force, filed suit in March but attorney Jason Murray said Monday that more than 200 people have called his firm in Vancouver.
I hope that having this many women speak out--together--about their experiences in the RCMP can finally dismantle the entrenched systems that have nurtured decades of sexism and harassment.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:35 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


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