Surrey Mountie sues, alleges PTSD from exposure to child porn in sex offences unit

Const. Michael Wardrobe says his exposure to disturbing child porn content has left him with PTSD

An RCMP officer has filed a lawsuit alleging he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after being exposed to a “significant volume” of child pornography while working in a specialized unit.

Const. Michael Wardrope says he was exposed to disturbing videos, photographs, interviews and interrogations as a member of the child abuse and sexual offence unit in Surrey, B.C.

“His mental health was impacted by unescapable images and memories from the files he had worked on,” says the lawsuit filed in British Columbia Supreme Court.

Wardrope says in the court document he was “flattered” when he was recruited to the unit in 2009. But he says he told his bosses he had three young children, had to commute hours per day and didn’t think viewing child porn would be healthy.

He alleges his supervisor assured him that overtime was uncommon and that the amount of child pornography that needed to be viewed was “very minimal and almost non-existent,” as the work was, for the most part, interviewing children.

He says he was told that he was committed to as much as two and a half years in the unit.

Despite the assurances from his superiors, he says, within the first three months on the job he was required to work overtime and was exposed to child pornography. The unit was significantly understaffed, he alleges.

“The plaintiff’s supervisors were aware of his struggles with his health and the work load,” the lawsuit says.

“The plaintiff was aware of, or had witnessed personally on a number of occasions, members in the unit breaking down and crying while working on files.”

By fall 2010, the lawsuit says, Wardrope was showing symptoms of having a nervous breakdown. He approached his supervisor and broke down, crying and telling him he was “falling apart,” the suit says.

The supervisor promised to transfer him out of the unit but the transfer didn’t happen until 10 months later and Wardrope’s health was irreparably damaged, the suit alleges.

None of the allegations has been tested in court.

The lawsuit is filed against the Attorney General of Canada and the B.C. Justice Ministry, but the ministry said the RCMP was responsible for responding.

The RCMP said it could not comment on Saturday and would reserve its response for the court process.

Wardrope alleges his supervisors failed or neglected to respond to the serious concerns he reported to them about his mental health and the risk it posed to his safety.

He also alleges the conduct of his supervisors was “harassing, intimidating and/or an abuse of authority.”

As a result of the negligence, the lawsuit alleges, he has suffered extreme mental and physical ailments, including PTSD, suicidal thoughts, serious depression, severe anxiety disorder and chronic pain with severe cramping and spasms.

He is seeking general damages, special damages, past and future loss of income, diminished loss of earning capacity and various other damages.

Follow @ellekane on Twitter.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Surrey man to bike across Canada

Last minute decision to take Rajiv Dhaliwal on three-month journey

White Rock RCMP reviews street checks for racial bias

Report indicates checks are being conducted bias-free

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

PHOTOS: Surrey rally supports Mona Wang, calls for wellness check reform

Security camera footage shows Wang being dragged, stepped on during RCMP wellness check at UBCO

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m.

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Fraser Valley loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people traveling Chilliwack’s Keith Wilson Road

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Most Read