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Updated: Fri, 02 Aug 2013 00:24:23 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Former RCMP spokesman sued for alleged sexual assault



Former RCMP spokesman sued for alleged sexual assault

A former civilian member of the RCMP's B.C. communication division is suing the force and a former top spokesman for alleged sexual assault.

In a claim filed today in B.C. Supreme Court, Atoya Montague alleges Insp. Tim Shields abused his position of authority over her to commit acts of sexual assault.

The governments of British Columbia and Canada are also named in the lawsuit.

- Read more about allegations of sexual harassment inside the RCMP

- Read more about the RCMP Commissioner's response

Montague held a senior civilian position within the RCMP's B.C. communications division, where she worked with Shields.

She alleges that in 2003 while driving to the B.C. Interior with Shields he made unwanted sexual advances toward her.

"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 over the car so that he could perform oral sex on her," the lawsuit alleges.

Montague also claims Shields exposed himself to her in 2008 during a similar incident in a police car.

"On this occasion he showed the plaintiff his penis," the lawsuit alleges.

Left 'terrified' by encounter

In her notice of civil claim, Montague says the tone of sexual harassment within the RCMP began even before she formally started work.

She claims one staff sergeant told another member "there would be a lineup" of men out the door once she began work.

She also alleges that several other senior officers made sexual comments and jokes toward her during her time with the force.

In one incident Montague alleges she was surrounded by the male members of the police dog unit rubbing up against her, leaving her "terrified, literally running away from that encounter," the lawsuit alleges.

Montague says she did not report the incidents at the time for fear of the negative repercussion it would have on her career.

The lawsuit says Montague worked for the RCMP from 2002 until 2011, when she went on sick leave and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2012.

She also alleges the RCMP's health services has since harassed her about her condition and threatened to cut off her medical leave and pay.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

RCMP launched internal investigation

On Thursday evening the RCMP issued a statement saying they had already been made aware of Montague's allegations by an unnamed third party and had launched an internal investigation in the matter that had failed to turn up any evidence of wrong doing.

"While the RCMP has not been officially served, it is our understanding the civil suit contains a series of serious but currently unproven, uncorroborated, and unsubstantiated allegations," said the statement released by Insp. Ed Boettcher.

"Repeated attempts to gather any information directly from Ms. Montague, who has been on leave since August 2011, or her representative were unsuccessful. These efforts were extended from the highest levels, up to and including the Commanding Officer in an effort to understand the basis of the allegations.

"The RCMP has done as thorough an investigation as possible based on the information received from the third party. None of the allegations including those which have been set out in the statement of claim could be substantiated nor corroborated."

"Given that the allegations now form part of a civil suit we are not able to comment further and our formal response will be filed in a statement of defence."

Ongoing claims of sexual harassment

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal actions filed against the RCMP by former female employees and officers, following allegations of widespread sexual harassment inside the force.

- Read more about the class action lawsuit

Almost 300 current and former female Mounties have come forward to join a class-action lawsuit alleging harassment within the ranks of the RCMP.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson has said his key priority is to eliminate sexual harassment in the force.

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