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Kelowna  

No jail for former Kelowna Mountie officer who sent explicit texts to vulnerable women

Former cop avoids jail

A former Kelowna RCMP officer has escaped jail time after pleading guilty to one count of breach of trust.

Instead, Brian Burkett, 38, was given a nine-month conditional sentence by Judge Michelle Daneliuk.

Burkett was charged in July 2019 with seven counts of breach of trust for “pursuing a sexual relationship” with seven women in connection with his duties between October 2015 and August 2016.

During a June court appearance, Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg altered the charge against Burkett by combining all seven allegations against the former officer into one breach of trust charge, to which Burkett then pleaded guilty.

The investigation was launched after one woman went to the police with a complaint about the officer's conduct. Investigators looked through Burkett's phone and found text messages that led to the identification of six other victims.

Burkett had met all of the seven women through his work as an officer, and many had been in vulnerable positions when he began sending them sexually suggestive texts and naked photos of himself.

Two of the women had been recent victims of domestic assaults when Burkett first met them, while another had contacted police about being harassed by her ex-boyfriend.

While the criminal charges Burkett pleaded guilty to include allegations that he sent sexually explicit text messages and naked photos of himself to the women, one of the seven spoke in court during sentencing submissions in June and said Burkett's actions went much further than that.

After she was arrested by Burkett for driving while prohibited in February 2016, of the the victims claims Burkett implied to her that he could make the charge go away if she had sex with him.

“I had just rebuilt my life, I had a good job, and I was pretty much willing to do anything to make this traffic thing go away,” the victim said in court.

“I met up with him and had sex with him in his car, that was the deal, that he would help make the charge go away. That didn't happen. And I have to live with the embarrassment and the guilt and the shame that I did that,” she testified.

“I was absolutely terrified to report it, because like he said 'No one's going to believe you' ... I've been living in fear for years now, I have absolutely no trust or faith in the people who are meant to protect us."

The conditional sentence means Burkett can serve the nine months in the community, instead of behind bars.

Burkett quit the force in 2017, after an RCMP internal code of conduct hearing had been scheduled for the officer.

with files from Nich Johansen



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