Kelowna cop who sent sexually explicit texts gets conditional sentence | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna cop who sent sexually explicit texts gets conditional sentence

Brian Burkett was sentenced today, July 27.
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July 27, 2021 - 10:09 AM

A former Kelowna cop who sent sexually explicit texts to vulnerable women he’d met while on the job got a nine-month conditional sentence today.

Brian Burkett, 38, was initially charged with seven counts of breach of trust, for each woman who made a complaint, but in the course of making a plea deal, the seven complaints were reduced to a single charge which he pleaded guilty to in June. He is also the focus of four civil suits dealing with similar issues.

Judge Michelle Danyluk said that the primary goal of sentencing was denunciation and deterrence.

"Although the guilty plea is in one all-encompassing count within the offence there are multiple victims identified and it occurred over several months from October 2015 to August 2016," Danyluk said.

"In other words, this is not a singular momentary lapse in judgment but a repeated pattern of conduct."

She also said the circumstances were aggravating because it was done to women in distress and it caused long-term damage.

It also undermined trust in police.

"There are some lines that can never be crossed and you crossed that line not once but seven times," she said. "This behaviour doesn't just impact the victims but also to some extent, the reputation of the detachment and your former colleagues."

Burkett will serve his conditional sentence where he is currently living and working in Alberta. 

He must maintain good behaviour and appear before the court when required. Burkett must not contact or communicate with any of the seven victims, or go to any place where the victims live, work, attend school or attend church. For the first three months of his sentence, Burkett must obey a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and must be at his home between these hours. For the following months of his sentence, Burnett must obey a 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. He must also not possess a weapon and attend counselling, Danyluk said.

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

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

“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.

His lawyer, Wade Jenson, said Burkett's behaviour was inconsistent with the rules and guidelines set up for police officers. And he's acknowledged that with the plea and in August of 2016 when he voluntarily, sat down with the lead investigator in this matter to give a candid and emotional admission.

Burkett has also 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.

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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