Ex-N.L. cop named in sex assault lawsuit denies allegations, seeks publication ban

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A former Newfoundland police officer named in a civil lawsuit alleging he raped a colleague denies any wrongdoing and is seeking a publication ban on his name, according to court documents.

Former Royal Newfoundland Constabulary sergeant Robert Baldwin has also asked the provincial Supreme Court to be made an intervener in the suit against the provincial government.

An application filed on July 12 says Baldwin "denies these allegations made against him ... in their entirety." The document says that because he is not a named party in the lawsuit, he was "not given notice of the action, nor was he provided with an opportunity to issue a defence."

His application for a publication ban says he has never sexually touched anyone while on duty, including the complainant in the lawsuit.

Both applications were addressed Friday in provincial Supreme Court. Justice Glen Noel said he would not grant a temporary publication ban on Baldwin's name and set a hearing for Aug. 23 to hear the application.

The lawsuit filed this year in provincial Supreme Court alleges Baldwin raped a fellow provincial police officer in 2014 after offering her a ride home. The allegations have not been tested in court, and no criminal charges have resulted.

The suit names the government of Newfoundland and Labrador as the defendant, as the body responsible for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

The court hearing came the same day the province released a workplace review of the police force, conducted by lawyer Harriet Lewis.

The review was announced last October, about three months after St. John's lawyer Lynn Moore announced she'd heard from several women alleging crimes, including sexual assault, committed by Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers. Moore has since said some of those women are preparing civil action.

In May 2021, Const. Carl Douglas Snelgrove was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in her living room in 2014, after offering her a ride home from a night of drinking in downtown St. John's.

In her report, Lewis said she asked about sexual misconduct in the workplace with most of the people she spoke to at the force.

"I was somewhat surprised that no one we spoke with was shocked by the information that was made public by the legal actions," she wrote. "That said, few admitted to actual knowledge of such behaviour by fellow officers."

She concluded the force has "deep connections" with the communities it serves, but that it has problems with morale as well as a widespread fear of discipline and reprisal among its ranks. Her report includes nine recommendations, including that an officer or office be designated as a trusted place for employees to bring misconduct concerns.

"I do not believe that there exists the widespread disconnect and distance between the force and the people of the province that may be present in larger and less integrated communities," Lewis wrote.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 15, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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