A young woman who received hundreds of unwanted and sexually inappropriate text messages from an RCMP officer is suing the B.C. government, alleging a failure to investigate previous complaints of sexual misconduct against the now-former Mountie.
The civil claim, filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Dec. 9 by a woman using the name Jane Doe, names the minister of public safety and ex-constable Brian Eden as defendants.
“The minister knew or ought to have known of the risk of harm that Eden posed to female complainants of sexual assault, but failed to take … any reasonable steps to prevent that risk of harm from materializing,” the claim says.
Doe alleges that Eden’s superiors “failed to adequately investigate credible complaints of sexual misconduct alleged against Eden before the misconduct in question.”
Eden was fired from the RCMP in 2017 because of his text messages to Doe. He was 40 years old at the time of the incident, while Doe was just 17.
An RCMP conduct review board found Eden’s “decision to pursue contact … via sexualized text messages” undermined public confidence in the force.
The decision from the RCMP conduct board also confirmed 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 in the day.
Neither Eden, the ministry nor the RCMP have filed responses to the claim. Eden’s current whereabouts and profession are unknown, according to Doe’s claim.
A spokesperson for the ministry said it would be inappropriate to comment while the case is before the courts. B.C. RCMP spokesperson Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said the force has not been served with the claim.
‘Substantial’ harm alleged
According to Doe’s claim, she came into contact with Eden after reporting that she had been the victim of an aggravated sex assault by multiple male suspects in December 2014.
Eden was part of the team assigned to investigate her case. Doe says she first spoke to him on the phone on Jan. 4, 2015 to provide more information about the people involved in the alleged assault.
Following that first contact, Eden initiated “approximately 300 personal text message exchanges,” according to the claim.
Those messages “began with an invitation for coffee, and then escalated thereafter to include sexually suggestive comments and sexually inappropriate photographs,” the claim says.
The texts included messages calling the teen a “saucey little thing,” and telling her to “send a pic,” “im a fan of yoga pants … hint lol,” according to the decision from the RCMP conduct board.
“Eden knew or ought to have known that the kind of psychological harm suffered by the plaintiff was substantially certain to follow,” Doe’s claim says.
Those harms, according to Doe, include post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, depression, difficulty trusting people in authority, low self-esteem, anxiety and sleep disturbances.
Doe is asking for the court to hold the province vicariously liable for Eden’s actions, accusing the ministry of negligence, willful blindness, recklessness and breach of fiduciary duty.