As a former Penticton RCMP officer awaits her sentencing after pleading guilty to harassing a former colleagues ex-wife, a civil lawsuit is also underway, documents have revealed.
According to the lawsuit filed by Gail McDiarmid in March 2019, she married Const. Martin Degen in 2010 and their relationship “completely broke down” in June 2018.
McDiarmid said in her lawsuit that between those dates, Degen entered into a relationship with now-former Const. Rachelle Blanchard in fall 2015, and in the months following she was the victim of harassment by both Degen and Blanchard.
In May 2018, Blanchard was criminally charged with one count of harassment, one count of fraudulent personation with intent to cause disadvantage and one count of mischief. At the time the charges were laid, she also ended her career with the RCMP.
She pleaded guilty in the Penticton court house in June 2019 to the harassment charge and is still awaiting sentencing. The case was adjourned by Judge Michelle Daneliuk on Sept. 9.
The civil court documents name both Blanchard and Degen as defendants, and allege that Blanchard first began harassing McDiarmid online and via text message around October 2016. The harassment escalated, the lawsuit claims, with Blanchard sending packages to the ex-wife’s home.
“The packages included children’s books entailing how to talk to your children about divorce, intimate clothing and lubrication. In addition, (Blanchard) would harass (McDiarmid) at her workplace by filing false complaints against (her),” court documents read.
McDiarmid also claims that Blanchard intentionally purchased a home located five properties away from her own in Summerland to “intimidate and further harass” her.
In her response to the lawsuit, Blanchard denies these claims and states that if McDiarmid was harassed by someone, it was done by person’s unknown to her or, alternatively, by Degen. She also added that she did not have knowledge of McDiarmid’s place of residence when she purchased her home in Summerland, and that she only did this to provide an affordable place for her and her children to live.
Blanchard is also accused of entering McDiarmid’s locked garage without her knowledge, leaving behind a set of keys in her vehicle that were later identified as potential keys to a gun locker.
The court documents also state that Blanchard impersonated McDiarmid on online dating sites, and even went as far to set up a date at McDiarmid’s residence without her knowledge.
“On one occasion, (Blanchard) sent a stranger to (McDiarmid’s) matrimonial home under the impression that he was going on a date with (her),” the documents allege. “(Blanchard) made (McDiarmid) fearful of being alone in her matrimonial home.”
Blanchard still claims her innoncence in respect to the other two charges levelled against her. Crown told Penticton Western News on Sept. 10 it’s expected that those charges will be stayed when the trial resumes on Oct. 7 for sentencing.
McDiarmid’s civil lawsuit also points to her former husband, Degen. The lawsuit claims that he provided Blanchard with personal information “in order for her to impersonate and harass” McDiarmid, and that he withheld their children’s belongings and caused incidents at their school.
Degen was charged under the Police Act for his actions regarding the harassment of McDiarmid, and, following an RCMP investigation, was cleared of any criminal charges or wrongdoings.
He also denies any wrongdoing, according to his filed response to the suit.
According to Sgt. Janelle Shoihet, Degen is currently on administrative leave with the RCMP but could not provide the date on which his leave started.
McDiarmid is seeking unspecified damages from both Blanchard and Degen due to psychological and emotional harm that has resulted in economic loss and “an erosion of safety for (McDiarmid) and her children.” She said that due to this ordeal, she has had to relocate and find new employment, as well as seek counselling.
None of the accusations have been proven in court.
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