The sentence that deserves an exclamation

Pam
Pam Frampton
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When former RNC superintendent Bob Garland pleaded guilty to sexual assault in a Corner Brook court last week and was given the most benign of sentences, there was plenty of public outcry.

With a conditional discharge and a year's probation, the 50-year-old can slip off into early retirement without even having to have his name added to the national sex offender registry like other convicted sex offenders.

That is what provincial court deemed acceptable for a former high-ranking police officer who, by his own admission, sexually assaulted, verbally berated and emotionally traumatized a junior officer on his force.

Garland's punishment is an outrage.

Paula Sheppard Thibeau of the Corner Brook chapter of the Status of Women Council contends the sentence "further betrays women's confidence in the justice system when it comes to sexualized crimes."

She's dead-on.

But it isn't only feminists - this columnist included - who should be upset by what the court deemed just punishment for Garland's repugnant abuse of power and position.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary itself should be publicly distancing itself from Garland's words and actions, because they paint the force in a deplorable light and set women's fight for equality back about 50 years.

Reading the agreed statement of facts in the case, you could be forgiven for thinking tricerotops were roaming outside the RNC's Corner Brook detachment and pterodactyls were wheeling in the skies over Marble Mountain when Garland committed his crime.



Bad call

On the night of May 6, 2008, Garland called for a police cruiser to come and collect him and a drinking buddy at his house, and then had the friend dropped off at the Glynmill Inn.

Garland, off-duty at the time, decided this would be an excellent time to visit the office and offer cockeyed career counselling to a couple of female officers.

He kept the constable who picked him up sitting in the car for an hour, politely listening to him ramble on about how she needed to do more courses and plan her career.

Then he headed on into work to search out his target: a female officer of three years' experience, who was busy working the dispatcher station. Garland told someone else to cover for her while he whisked her into his office for a five-minute chat.

That "chat" lasted two hours, until nearly 2 a.m. - hours that must have felt like psychological torture to the junior officer, whom he berated and bullied, grabbed and groped, humiliated and embarrassed.

Two hours for her of trying to repel his unwanted advances, of being lectured and prevented from leaving.

Crying at one point, after being grilled about her personal life, the woman "tried to pull away but he held her firmly," the court documents say.

Garland threatened that he would only "stick out his neck for her" so many times before she landed in trouble for "fooling up" at work.

As the statement of facts notes, "He continued to link her work success to her looks, her gender and her friendships within work."

And then Garland made his most damaging statement of the evening.

According to the court documents, "Garland told her that the chief had instructed him to identify female officers for fast-tracking through the ranks as part of the RNC promotional objectives.

He told the complainant that if she did things right and played her cards right, there would be a lot of potential for advancement."

Now, aside from the fact that a senior officer's unwarranted, unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate touching have been referred to as being at the "lower end of the scale" when it comes to sexual assault (I doubt the victim would agree), Garland's description of how women should go about advancing in their careers is insulting and unacceptable.

First of all, most of the professional women I know are quite content to move up the ranks based on their abilities, and have no desire to be "fast-tracked" for any superficial, politically correct reason.

Secondly, I doubt very much the RNC's strategy for advancing women involves sexually assaulting and verbally abusing them, and then telling them to "play their cards right" if they want to be promoted.

If that's not an implied threat - give in to my sexual demands or languish in career limbo - I don't know what is.



Reputation tarnished

Bob Garland abused his power, tying up police resources on a night when he wasn't working. He sexually assaulted a junior employee, when he was clearly supposed to be in a position of trust.

He verbally chastised her and probed her about her personal life and sexual preferences. And then he told her that he'd kept her so long in his office, that her co-workers were sure to think they'd been having sex. And, oh yeah, if she wanted to go any further in her career, she should probably think of going further in other ways, too.

If the RNC wants to hang on to its good reputation, this might be a good time to consider damage control.

Because as it stands, if Bob Garland is the kind of person who gets promoted and given more and more responsibility, despite his obviously sexist and archaic views of women, I'm not sure if policing with the RNC is a career choice I'd encourage for any woman I know.

There's not much the RNC can do about Garland's light sentence, but it can sure as hell let the public know that his tactics are not ingrained in or endorsed by the police force.



Pam Frampton is The Telegram's story editor. She can be reached by e-mail at pframpton@thetelegram.com. Read her columns online at www.thetelegram.com.

Organizations: Women Council, Glynmill Inn

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Marble Mountain

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • liz
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    It must be reasurring for the RCMP and RNC to know they can do whatever criminal act they want and get off with a slap on the wrist. The justice system always protects it's own whether it be prison guards, judges or anyone else involved in work with the justice system. The slogan should be justice for all except we turn a blind eye to our own .

  • TJ
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    It's not only the public that is disappointed and left scratching their heads. Believe me when I say that police officers feel much the same way. However, as Ms. Frampton says, There's not much the RNC can do about Garland's light sentence Hopefully people will not paint the whole force with the same brush as so often happens in these type situations.

  • Grant
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Bill is close to being right. judges are trained on how they treat drunken sex offender policeman. check the court records.

  • bill
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    in newfoundland police and politicans can do what ever they want

  • What justice system??
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Lower end of the scale when it comes to sexual assaults ..While reading some the articles wriiten on this incident one has to wonder what lawyer was repesenting the crown..The above statment was actually made by the crown attorny..This is where the whole problem begins. When the crown who is trying to get a conviction is making a statetement like this it sends a strong message. There is no doubt in my mind the court is nothing more than a kangaroo court but where do we start making a change. We start with sending a message to other sexual predators in positions of such authority. Set an example for other superindentants, police officer, managers, principles, etc that this will not be tolerated in any workforce..We had a chance here to send an example as was dome with Ed Byrne but the system failed..Personally I demand an appeal, and whomeve reads this and agrees should contact the minister of justice and also demand an enquiry into the relationship between the defendent, judge, and crown attorny because something smells foul. This was too blatant and the public should not let it go. It's not all about this single victim but too all vitims who are struggling male dominant careers..

  • Thomas
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I always enjoy reading the uninformed comments about how police get off with a slap on the wrist. Funny that other people convicted of a simialr fact offence get the same range of sentence whenever this comment rears its head.

    Is this sentence too light? DEFINITEYLY! But was there preferential treatment? I don't believe so after looking at other case law on the subject.

    Instead of slamming the police people should put their energy towards getting legislators to ammend the law so that stiffer sentences can be, and are, imposed.

    And before we get into the whole abuse of authority and position of trust debate consider that it is not only police officers who are in such positions. We live in a society where doctors, teachers, mailmen, nurses, private security, daycare workers, bankers, lawyers, parents, coaches and just about anyone reading these comments can be said to be in a position of trust or authority in some capacity or another....

    The moral of the story is our justice system has become so skewed and out of touch that it no longer works for the people it is supposed to serve.

  • liz
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    It must be reasurring for the RCMP and RNC to know they can do whatever criminal act they want and get off with a slap on the wrist. The justice system always protects it's own whether it be prison guards, judges or anyone else involved in work with the justice system. The slogan should be justice for all except we turn a blind eye to our own .

  • TJ
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    It's not only the public that is disappointed and left scratching their heads. Believe me when I say that police officers feel much the same way. However, as Ms. Frampton says, There's not much the RNC can do about Garland's light sentence Hopefully people will not paint the whole force with the same brush as so often happens in these type situations.

  • Grant
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    Bill is close to being right. judges are trained on how they treat drunken sex offender policeman. check the court records.

  • bill
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    in newfoundland police and politicans can do what ever they want

  • What justice system??
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Lower end of the scale when it comes to sexual assaults ..While reading some the articles wriiten on this incident one has to wonder what lawyer was repesenting the crown..The above statment was actually made by the crown attorny..This is where the whole problem begins. When the crown who is trying to get a conviction is making a statetement like this it sends a strong message. There is no doubt in my mind the court is nothing more than a kangaroo court but where do we start making a change. We start with sending a message to other sexual predators in positions of such authority. Set an example for other superindentants, police officer, managers, principles, etc that this will not be tolerated in any workforce..We had a chance here to send an example as was dome with Ed Byrne but the system failed..Personally I demand an appeal, and whomeve reads this and agrees should contact the minister of justice and also demand an enquiry into the relationship between the defendent, judge, and crown attorny because something smells foul. This was too blatant and the public should not let it go. It's not all about this single victim but too all vitims who are struggling male dominant careers..

  • Thomas
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    I always enjoy reading the uninformed comments about how police get off with a slap on the wrist. Funny that other people convicted of a simialr fact offence get the same range of sentence whenever this comment rears its head.

    Is this sentence too light? DEFINITEYLY! But was there preferential treatment? I don't believe so after looking at other case law on the subject.

    Instead of slamming the police people should put their energy towards getting legislators to ammend the law so that stiffer sentences can be, and are, imposed.

    And before we get into the whole abuse of authority and position of trust debate consider that it is not only police officers who are in such positions. We live in a society where doctors, teachers, mailmen, nurses, private security, daycare workers, bankers, lawyers, parents, coaches and just about anyone reading these comments can be said to be in a position of trust or authority in some capacity or another....

    The moral of the story is our justice system has become so skewed and out of touch that it no longer works for the people it is supposed to serve.