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Esquimalt police officer denies allegations in $5.3M sex abuse civil suit

A former Esquimalt police officer is denying multiple allegations of sexual abuse alleged by former teenage informant who he handled for information on thefts, break and enters, possession of stolen property.
A former Esquimalt police officer is denying sexual abuse allegations in documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

Warning: this article contains details some readers may find distressing.

One of four Esquimalt police officers has denied sexual abuse allegations levelled in a civil lawsuit from a former teenaged informant.

The initial suit, filed by a woman known only as Jane Doe, named officers Scott Malcolm Connors, Robert Bruce Cowick, Samuel Donald Devana and Kenneth Barrie Cockle, as well as the Victoria Police Department, which amalgamated with the Esquimalt Police Department (EPD) in 2003.

The Victoria department has been dropped from the suit, and the Township of Esquimalt is named a defendant instead.

In the notice of civil claim, filed in B.C. Supreme Court’s Vancouver registry on Nov. 21, the plaintiff asserted she was the subject of ongoing abuse.

Publicity around the allegations, earlier police investigation, and a public inquiry are not new, but the civil suit is.

Allegations against Cowick and Cockle were reportedly resolved before a 1995 inquiry, and allegations against Connors and Devana were dismissed.

However, the new claim said Doe’s involvement with the EPD began when she was arrested in 1989 on six counts of theft. In the late summer of 1989, Connors approached her and a friend, S.J., for information about a person possessing drugs. They declined but called later that day to provide the information.

“She trusted Connors, in his capacity as a police constable, to protect her and safeguard both her physical and emotional needs,” the claim said.

Doe alleges during her involvement with the EPD, she was “subjected to an escalating pattern of sexual harassment and abuse.”

It started in May 1990 when Doe was with 13-year-old S.J. and ran into Connors by a pub, the claim said. She alleges Connors pulled open her shirt and looked down. Two months later he asked if she were wearing a bra and pulled on the back of it.

Doe alleged Cowick, on four occasions, solicited Doe to perform oral sex on him.

She alleged Cockle started in 1992 by making inappropriate and unwelcome sexual remarks over the phone.

In the summer of 1993, the claim said, Cockle, while on duty at the EPD station, asked her to strip and expose her breasts as a gift to retiring Sgt. Jim Askew.
“When Doe refused this request,” the claim said, “Cockle solicited Jane Doe to have oral sex with Sgt. Askew, offering to get her drunk if she complied with his request.”

She believed her identity as an informant could be compromised if she refused, the claim said.

In the fall of 1993, Doe attended Skew’s retirement party, with Cockle giving her numerous brandy shots. Jane Doe approached the table of police officers and informed them that she was there to perform oral sex on Sgt. Askew,” the claim said.

When Askew declined, Cockle attempted to solicit her to return to the EPD station to do a strip show.

In March of 1993, the claim said, Cockle invited Doe for drinks with a dispatcher. When the dispatcher left, Doe alleges, Cockle offered to drive her home. After several sexual advances, and exposed himself “before raping her on the ground outside of his vehicle,” the claim said.

In October 1992, Doe asserts, she attended a club with officers including Devana. She claims he subjected her to escalating “sexualized behaviour” before attempting to force her to perform oral sex. After a bouncer noticed, both were asked to leave after which Devana allegedly asked her for a “quickie.”

It was in May of 1992 that Doe told her probation officer she was an informant and had been sexually harassed and assaulted. The officer contacted Deputy Chief Const. Graham Brown about the situation but, the claim said, Brown said a complaint would have to be filed.

She decided against such a course of action fearing her identity as an informant would be disclosed.

Connors filed a response to the claim on Jan. 21, denying the allegations.

The response said the plaintiff gave police information on thefts, break and enters and possession of stolen property. To a lesser degree, the response said, she provided information on drug possession and possession for the purposes of trafficking.

The response said Connors encountered the plaintiff frequently and with knowledge and under the direction of the Esquimalt Police Department.

“During the time the defendant was directed to work with the plaintiff, his dealings were entirely professional and specifically, without intimidation, improper inducement or any other alleged unprofessional or illegal behaviours,” the response said.

None of the allegations have been tested in court.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins told Glacier Media that township legal counsel requested and was granted an extension to file a response.

"As this is a legal matter, further comment will not be provided at this time," Desjardins said.

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