Mountie Claims Child Porn Work Destroyed Him

VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) — A veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has sued his country and province for the debilitating post-traumatic stress he suffered from constant exposure to child pornography on the job.

Michael Wardrope, an RCMP constable, brought the complaint on Dec. 7 against the British Columbia Ministry of Justice and the attorney general of Canada in British Columbia Supreme Court.

After two years on the job, Wardrope was recruited in the force’s child abuse and sexual offense unit in March 2009.

“The plaintiff was very flattered that he was being recruited for a position in Major Crimes as a relatively new member,” Wardrope says in the complaint. “However, the plaintiff had concerns and sought certain assurances before he accepted the position. He explained that he had three young children and had to commute hours per day and didn’t think that viewing a lot of child pornography would be healthy for him.”

He says a superior assured him that the position didn’t require much overtime and that it would mostly involve interviewing children rather than viewing high volumes of child pornography.

He took the job, and went on parental leave three and a half months later, but “by the time he went on leave, the plaintiff had been required to work overtime and had already been exposed to child pornography, both of which were starting to take a toll on his mental health,” he says in the complaint.

Upon returning nine months later, Wardrope was “immediately exposed to a constant significant volume of child pornography in the form of disturbing videos, photographs, interviews, and interrogations.” He said his unit was understaffed and the workload was heavy and required lots of overtime.

“The plaintiff’s health was deteriorating,” the lawsuit states. “His mental health was impacted by unescapable images and memories from the files he had worked on.”

Unit supervisors allegedly knew of his struggles, and other members of the unit regularly broke down crying during work, Wardrope says. By the autumn of 2010, Wardrope says, he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and was promised a transfer, but when it finally arrived, 10 months later, his “physical and mental health were irreparably damaged.”

Wardrope was diagnosed with PTSD in 2012 and has been on sick leave since, and attempts to return to work have been unsuccessful. He says he was duped into taking the position by assurances that misrepresented the workload, overtime, and the extent to which he’d be exposed to child pornography.

“It was a direct and foreseeable consequence of the negligent conduct of members of the RCMP in authority over him … that the plaintiff’s career with the RCMP would be compromised as his mental and physical health would deteriorate,” the claim states.

He seeks damages for lost income, including future losses, diminished earning capacity and loss of RCMP membership and pension benefits.

He is represented by J. Barry Cater with Mair Jensen Blair in Vancouver.