Family of abused RCMP officer finally gets compensation

The family of an RCMP officer who blew the whistle on sexual misconduct in the force has finally been compensated for the trauma she endured.

On July 6, 2018, former RCMP officer Krista Carlé took her own life. She had been sexually assaulted by a fellow RCMP officer and suffered years of abuse, resulting in a diagnosis of PTSD.

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After her death, Carlé’s estate was denied compensation from the $100-million class-action sexual-misconduct settlement known as the Merlo Davidson Settlement. Carlé had submitted her claim on time, but the organization overseeing the settlement failed to review it before she took her own life. The settlement only allowed compensation for living officers. Kevin Carlé, Krista’s brother and executor of her estate, called that decision “shockingly cruel and insensitive.” He was told Krista’s children, now adults, would not get a cent.

The retired naval captain appealed to the government, but his request was rejected — until now. On the second anniversary of her death, Carlé received a registered letter and a handwritten cheque for $83,125 — $100,000 less legal fees — in the mail.

The letter from Michel Bastarache, the independent assessor who is administering the settlement claims, said the federal court amended the settlement agreement on June 3, to provide for the payment of compensation to the estates of deceased claimants. “A huge justice has been done,” said Kevin Carlé. “It really was good news. I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I shared the news with friends and supporters and have been overwhelmed by the reaction. So many people expressed their displeasure about this because it was so fundamentally wrong and unfair.”

One of those people was class action co-plaintiff Linda Davidson. She contacted Kevin Carlé when she heard that Krista had been left out of the lawsuit. Then, she contacted her lawyers, Megan McPhee and Won Kim, explained the circumstances and asked them to look at Krista’s case to see if there was anything they could do.

“I knew Krista and I knew her circumstances. And it got me. The biggest thing that got me — she attended her daughter’s graduation and then the next day she dies at her own hand. And it really struck me the pain that she must have been living with just to hang on long enough,” Davidson said Monday. “My heart ached for her.”

Davidson said she hopes Krista’s son and daughter do something with the settlement money that will bring them good memories and good feelings and help them move on with their lives.

“The suffering is over for her. It’s the ones left behind. I needed to see this happen so that something good could come out of this,” said Davidson. “My lawyers felt the same way.”

In a statement Monday, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the situation involving Carle’s claim under the Merlo Davidson Settlement was unacceptable and contained a serious gap with tragic consequences. Blair led the effort to close the “concerning gap,” working with the lawyers, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and the Department of Justice to negotiate an amendment to the settlement.

“Our deepest condolences are with the family and friends of former RCMP constable Krista Carlé. Harassment and gender-based violence are never ok, and everyone deserves to feel safe where they work,” said the statement.

Blair also contacted Kevin Carlé, calling him at home on July 8.

“He told me that frankly, nobody in government felt this was the right thing to do and expressing sorrow for the whole situation,” Carlé recounted.

He used the opportunity to tell the minister that Krista’s family wants more information, directly from the authorities about Krista’s death. In November, former Central Saanich police Cpl. Brent Robertson filed a five-page complaint with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP.

The former firearms officer was concerned that Sooke RCMP returned Krista’s gun to her despite her serious mental health problems. A month later, she used it to take her own life. The B.C. RCMP conducted an internal review of the events leading to Krista’s death. A number of recommendations have been put in place but the RCMP will not share the results of the review.

“We’d like to know what happened leading up to Krista’s death, what was done incorrectly and what was done correctly and who is being held to account for returning her firearm and her firearms licence when it would appear that action was completely inappropriate,” said Kevin Carlé.

“I’m hopeful we’ll be able to really have closure when we have all the information and our questions answered.”

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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