The former Penticton RCMP officer who pleaded guilty to criminally harassing the wife of a co-worker has been handed a conditional discharge.
Former Const. Rachelle Blanchard, 35, appeared in Penticton Provincial Court on Monday for sentencing for a long list of actions she carried out between 2016 to 2017. Some of the offences were also outlined in a lawsuit filed by the local officer’s now ex-wife, Gail McDiarmid.
According to the agreed statement of facts read in court, Blanchard had an affair with RCMP officer Martin Degen in 2013. Both officers were married and had children at the time.
When it became clear the relationship was not going to work out, Blanchard began harassing McDiarmid, with the intention of splitting up the marriage in 2016.
In 2016, Blanchard sent packages with lingerie and lubricant which were later followed by books for children about how to talk about divorce in 2017, the court heard.
In March 2017, Blanchard set up a fake email account to send a false complaint to McDiarmid’s employer at the time, Interior Health, alleging McDiarmid accessed private documents. After an investigation, Interior Health found the complaint to be unsubstantiated.
According to statements made in court, in June 2017, she impersonated McDiarmid and signed her up to a dating website and sent a stranger to her house for a date.
In his reasoning, B.C. provincial court Judge Richard Miller said Blanchard set out to “destroy her paramour’s marriage” when she realized their affair was not going to work out. He added that although she claimed to be “in a haze” during the time of her actions, they happened over a long period of time and required complex thinking.
Miller said when a police officer commits a crime, they should receive a harsher sentence. But, he said he did not see her actions enhanced by her special training or conditions as an RCMP officer. He added that her guilty plea and the fact that she confessed during the police investigation at the time also went into his decision for a conditional discharge.
“Such devious behaviour should have consequences,” said Miller who also listed what McDiarmid had said in her victim impact statement about the confusion the harassment caused, including fear for herself and her children.
In court, defence lawyer Ian McAndrews argued that Blanchard was suffering from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) from her many years as a police officer dealing with disturbing cases. It also came to light that in 2018, Blanchard had been refused treatment for her PTSD by the RCMP.
“The last few years, and before, have been a big blur and spiral,” said Blanchard in her statement which also included an apology to her children, family and McDiarmid. “I was struggling.”
Blanchard also received one-year probation. She must keep the peace and is forbidden from owning a firearm or weapon of any sort.
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