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."
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.
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.
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.