The B.C. Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner found that a VicPD officer committed actions of discreditable conduct during an off-duty sexual encounter in Vancouver in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)

The B.C. Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner found that a VicPD officer committed actions of discreditable conduct during an off-duty sexual encounter in Vancouver in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)

B.C. officer conduct discreditable in drunken sexual encounter: OPCC ruling

Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner hearing reviewed 2018 Vancouver incident

A Victoria Police Department officer has been found to have committed an act of discreditable conduct during an off-duty sexual encounter in Vancouver in May 2018.

A decision written by retired judge Wally Oppal, appointed to adjudicate a public hearing into the matter by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC), details the events leading up to and after a night of heavy drinking that led to a sexual encounter involving Sgt. Brent Keleher and a Victoria woman identified as N.O. on May 12, 2018.

The decision stated that while the hearing’s role was not to make any finding with respect to sexual assault – a criminal investigation had been undertaken in 2018 and concluded with the Crown declining to authorize charges – but to determine whether discreditable conduct occurred.

According to the Police Act, discreditable conduct is defined as behaviour, on or off duty, that would likely bring discredit on the municipal police department.

The report stated that Keleher went to Vancouver in May 2018 to attend a friend’s bachelor party. N.O., who evidence showed was “generally well acquainted” with Keleher having worked with his wife, travelled there separately the same weekend to visit a friend who had given birth some months prior.

On the evening of May 12, Keleher and two friends, met N.O. and her friend at the Shark Club on West Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver. The group went on to two additional clubs that night, Dublin Calling and The Roxy.

“It would be an understatement to say that a considerable amount of alcohol was consumed by everyone,” Oppal wrote.

The group, including Keleher and N.O., left The Roxy at around 2 a.m. before heading back to the hotel where the men were staying. The report states the women chose to stay in the room due to their high level of intoxication.

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N.O. testified that although she doesn’t completely remember what occurred, she disagreed with any suggestion that she consented to sex and did remember Keleher making advancements. Keleher doesn’t deny the sexual encounter happened, but his testimony is dramatically different, saying that N.O. not only consented, but was an enthusiastic participant.

“I find that Sgt. Keleher was, at the very least, reckless as to whether N.O. consented to the sexual act,” Oppal wrote.

“Surely it must have been apparent to him, as an experienced officer, that she was clearly vulnerable. Accordingly I must reject his position that she was an equal and consenting participant in the sexual encounter.”

Oppal found that Keleher’s belief that consent had been given by N.O. was mistaken, not an honest belief, given that it appeared N.O. was “barely aware of her circumstances during the relevant time.”

Black Press Media has contacted VicPD to ask whether the decision will prompt further steps to be taken.

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@AustinEastphal
austin.westphal@saanichnews.com

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