Humbled and humiliated former Kelowna cop pleads guilty to breach of trust | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Humbled and humiliated former Kelowna cop pleads guilty to breach of trust

Brian Burkett today, June 2, outside the Kelowna courthouse.
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June 02, 2021 - 3:28 PM

A former Kelowna cop with a propensity for sending sexually explicit texts to vulnerable women he’d met while on the job said today his experience since being caught has been “humbling” and “humiliating.”

Brian Burkett, 38, has made headlines a lot in recent years but until today he’d never personally addressed the accusations that are the subject of at least four civil suits and — until today when all the complaints were reduced to one charge as part of a plea bargain — seven counts of breach of trust in connection with the duties of his office.

“I have spent the last number of years trying to rebuild my life,” Burkett, age 38, said after entering a guilty plea.

“This experience has been the most humbling and the scariest and most humiliating time of my life. I've worked hard to rebuild my life to have a career again, to reconnect with my family.”

He has since resigned from the RCMP. Burkett also blamed “media attention” for causing some relationship strain with his family.

“My actions are my own.… I was afraid of asking for help and I am sorry for my actions,” Burkett said.

“They are not who I am. I am really hoping, your honour, for an opportunity to be able to continue my career, and continue to live my life the best way that I can.”

His apology fell short of actually addressing his victims and that didn’t go unnoticed.

Only one of the seven women whose experiences are the basis of the case against Burkett made it to the court to hear his guilty plea and when asked what she got from his statement to the court she replied emphatically, “nothing.”

“He didn't say he was sorry for what he did to us, it was about his kids and his career,” she said outside the courthouse Wednesday. Her name, as well as the other six women’s, is protected under a publication ban.

READ MORE: Brian Burkett is facing several suits

“Well, what about my life? What about the trauma that I and the other girls who aren't here but who are here with me in spirit, what about what we’ve had to do?”

The whole experience has left her distrustful of police and both the proposed sentence of six months to one year from Crown and the fact seven charges have been distilled into one is deeply upsetting for her.

“I think that this is a huge slap in the face to all of us (who) came forward trying to change things,” she said.

Burkett’s actions came to the attention of his fellow Mounties in 2016 after one woman complained about his behaviour and the floodgates opened.

“The police then investigated breach of trust situations,” Crown counsel Neil Wiberg said.

“They seized the accused’s cell phone and the accused’s cell phone was not encrypted and they had text messages with several women. The police then backtracked and were able to determine what happened in those situations and charges were laid.”

In all seven of these instances, Burkett had contact with a female complainant as the result of an assignment through his work with the Kelowna RCMP, like serving a subpoena or making a traffic stop or helping in a domestic assault. Then he sent texts, oftentimes of a sexual nature, that made them feel uncomfortable and afraid.

The first was a woman who had been a victim of domestic assault. Burkett allegedly took her witness statement at the time of the assault, phoned her about a month later to check if a referral had been made to victim services. From that point forward he sent numerous text messages, many sexual in nature, including a picture of his penis.

The next woman contacted the Kelowna RCMP to make a report of criminal harassment from an ex-boyfriend and Burkett was dispatched to investigate the case. He took an initial statement from the woman and she later texted him. Burkett then emailed asking to see her breasts.

The next woman was stopped by Burkett on a road check. She had been driving while her licence was suspended and when her car was being towed away he asked her to go out with him. He also sent her several text messages, including pictures of his genitals.

Another woman came in contact with Burkett when her parents called RCMP to say she was suicidal. Two police officers, including Burkett, took her to the hospital. He sent her a text message a little later, and commented that she was not wearing a bra when he took her to the hospital and that she was beautiful. He texted her for a while and asked if she could if he could come over to see how she was doing. He told her that he wanted to go out with her and she said no. He continued to text but she did not respond.

The fifth count was from a woman he met when he was investigating a theft at a liquor store where she worked. A week later, he started sending her text messages asking if she would go out with him. Once he parked outside the liquor store and asked if she wanted him to come in.

Sixth, was a woman who he’d taken a statement from after a domestic assault. Two weeks later he began texting her asking if she would go out with him. She refused to communicate further with him.

Lastly, was a woman who was arrested at a disturbance and Burkett released her from cells when she was sober. She received a Facebook message later that day, asking if she got home OK.

They began texting and sexting. He sent her $400 when she said she was having trouble paying her bills and he contacted her and asked if he could visit her at her home. She said no.

Defence lawyer Wade Jenson said Burkett acknowledged that all the texting was not appropriate, but he stressed that it’s not a criminal matter and he should therefore get a conditional sentence. 

“After a three-year investigation of Const. Burkett, throughout several over a more than eight-year career as an RCMP officer… the charge that we're left with is (breach of trust),” he said.

“In other words, there's no allegations of sexual assault, no allegations of harassment or criminal behaviour whatsoever.”

Breach of trust has been described as when official conduct falls well below the reasonably expected standard.

“In this case, Mr. Burkett was certainly behaving in a manner that was simply not acceptable, he's acknowledged that,” Jenson said.

“His behaviour was inconsistent with the rules and guidelines set up for police officers which Burkett has sworn both. And he's acknowledged that with his plea here today. Frankly, he acknowledged that way back in August of 2016 when he voluntarily, sat down with the lead investigator in this matter to give a candid and emotional admission — an interview that was interrupted, on a number of occasions by tears.”

Burkett has actually been accused of harassment in civil suits. The Crown mentioned nothing about those allegations. He has never been charged in those circumstances and they remain untested accusations.

Jenson went on to say that Burkett recognized that he had some personal issues that had been bottled up inside him for some time. Since then he’s reached out for help and sought counselling.

The judge is expected to offer her sentence in the summer.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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