Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mountie probed over bondage, torture scenes

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VANCOUVER -- Mounties in British Columbia say they have launched a code-of-conduct investigation after "graphic, staged photos" of an RCMP officer were posted on the Internet.

The photos include images of bondage and torture, and some are sexually explicit.

Assistant Commissioner Randy Beck, acting commanding officer of the B.C. RCMP, said Thursday he is asking an external police agency to do an independent review of the RCMP's internal code-of-conduct investigation.He didn't say which independent police agncy that would be.

The officer in charge of the Coquitlam detachment, where the Mountie under investigation is based, was aware of the pictures as far back as December 2010, but at the time believed the pictures existed only on the man's personal flash drive, Beck said.

After consultation, he did not believe it met the threshold for a code-of-conduct violation, Beck said.

"While we must strike a balance between an individual's rights and freedoms when off duty and the RCMP code of conduct, I am personally embarrassed and very disappointed that the RCMP would be, in any way, linked to photos of that nature."

The RCMP has not identified the officer, but published reports say Cpl. Jim Brown is the subject of the pictures, which show sexually explicit torture images, including one picture where the man is holding a large butcher knife to a naked woman's throat. Brown could not be reached for comment.

Several of the photos show a bald-headed man with a goatee with a large machete. In one image he is binding the hands and feet of a woman who is lying on grass and wearing a yellow dress.

Nothing the man wears appears to connect him to the RCMP, although he does wear a pair of tall dark boots in some images.

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, which is examining why it took police so long to catch convicted B.C. serial killer Robert Pickton, was also asking questions Thursday because Brown played a minor role during the investigation of Pickton.

Wally Oppal, inquiry commissioner, said in a statement the commission has no evidence to support reopening the hearings.

"I have instructed commission counsel to gather more information regarding the RCMP investigation into the situation," said Oppal, noting lawyers have been communicating with officials in the Justice Department.

The delay in the code-of-conduct investigation is being criticized by psychologist Mike Webster, who counsels male and female Mounties who have faced harassment.

"What do you think this is going to do to the families of the missing women when they find out this guy was involved even minimally in this (Pickton) investigation, and he's engaged in this kind of behaviour and his employer is minimizing it," asked Webster.

"What do you think it's going to do to them? They are going to be secondarily traumatized."

He said a once-proud national icon is very quickly becoming a national disgrace.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2012 A16

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