Woman alleges RCMP discouraged her from pursuing charge against retired officer

A Richibucto woman who says she was sexually assaulted by a retired police officer is suing the RCMP, alleging the force discouraged her from pursuing charges against the man nine years ago.

Nicole Gallant's statement of claim alleges the police force was negligent in investigating her complaint, choosing to resolve it at a "restorative justice forum," where she faced the man she says sexually assaulted her at work.

It also alleges the force failed to foresee that the retired officer, Allan Larin, "was a danger to everyone at District 5," where Gallant is an administrative assistant.

Larin died from cancer in April, according to an obituary.

"I did everything for the RCMP," Gallant said in an interview.

"I gave my heart, my time. Sometimes you feel disappointed a little bit that it was hush-hush."

None of the allegations in the statement of claim, which also names Larin's estate, have been proven in court. Neither the RCMP nor Larin's estate have filed legal statements of defence.

When reached, Larin's wife said she didn't know anything about the lawsuit.

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh declined an interview request about the lawsuit.

"It would be inappropriate for the RCMP to comment on a matter that is before the court," she wrote in an email.

Nervous when door was closed

On the afternoon of Oct. 26, 2010, Gallant was asked to retrieve a file from the detachment's garage-like file room.

At the time, Larin was a retired member working as a temporary civilian employee, according to Gallant's statement of claim. 

Gallant said she encountered Larin as she was entering the room and heard the door close behind her. Gallant said Larin remained in the room.

"Then I got a little bit nervous," she said.

"I knew, I had this feeling that something might happen. So I said the file number out loud, tried to maybe change his mind or something, that he knew people knew I was there."

'I told him to stop'

As she went to grab the file, Gallant said Larin was behind her. She said he grabbed her arm from the back, turned her around and kissed her on the lips.

"I told him to stop, don't do that," Gallant said.

"Then when I turned to leave, that's when he did a bear hug underneath my breast. He pressed his body against me."

She said she kept telling Larin to stop, but he asked her to marry him.

Ian Bonnell/CBC

"He grabbed my arm, trying to kiss me again," Gallant said.

"Then I just pulled away and went back to work."

The next morning, Gallant said her husband encouraged her to report what happened.

'Discouraged' from pursuing charges

But it was intimidating. Richibucto is a small town and Gallant said Larin was well-known and liked.

She said she reported it to a co-worker the day after it happened, and one day after that, gave a statement to a female officer.

According to the statement of claim, an investigation was launched, Larin was suspended "and limitations on his access to RCMP buildings were put into place." Gallant didn't ask whether the investigation was criminal or internal.

CBC

The claim says the investigation by Cpl. Patricia Levesque "revealed that Larin had been acting in a way that made his co-workers uncomfortable for some time." The full report was not filed in court with the lawsuit and is only referenced in the statement of claim.

Gallant's claim alleges she was "discouraged from pursuing charges against Larin and the RCMP by members of the RCMP," who warned it would attract media attention and could affect her two daughters.

It's something she now regrets.

"Just those words scared me," Gallant said. "So I didn't push it."

The complaint was resolved at a "restorative justice forum" instead of in the courts, according to Gallant.

A restorative justice forum

She said the forum in February 2011 involved her, investigators, Larin, and female co-workers who'd had interactions with Larin.

For two hours, Gallant said, they sat in a circle and talked about what they felt, one by one.

"I didn't want to disagree, but it was not a very good experience," Gallant said.

CBC News has not spoken to any of Gallant's co-workers. On her lawyer's advice, she would not disclose the names of others with knowledge of the events or the other women who she said took part in the restorative justice forum.

Thompson's Funeral Home

"I'm sure they could sense it while I was sitting there because I was shaking like a leaf, and my head was down for two hours."

At the forum, Larin was "remorseful" and agreed to seek psychological counselling, the statement of claim says.

After that, Gallant believes the case was closed. 

"It was just later on, as the kids left the home, that you kind of go back into your mind, what if, what if?" she said.

"It's been nine years and I think about that every day."

Looking for change

As a result of the alleged sexual assault and the way the RCMP handled the investigation, the claim says, Gallant has dealt with anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and an inability to sleep. She's seeking damages from the RCMP and Larin's estate.

But for Gallant, it's also about sending a message to women who have experienced workplace harassment or sexual assault. She wants to encourage them to speak up.

"She's probably more than anything seeking to have this as a message to have the workplaces across Canada, particularly at the RCMP, change," said Gallant's lawyer, Brian Murphy.

Ian Bonnell/CBC

Gallant still works at the detachment and decided to go public with the support of her family. She's been taking things one day at a time.

"You're trying to get up in the morning and do your job with a smile," she said.

"But deep down inside, I can see changes. I'm not [the] happy-go-lucky woman I used to be."