A former North Vancouver RCMP officer who used to be in charge of professional standards at the detachment has admitted to being guilty of disgraceful conduct for having on-the-job sex in his police car.
Staff Sgt. Travis Pearson admitted before an RCMP disciplinary tribunal Monday that he used his RCMP Blackberry to send numerous sexual text messages to Const. Susan Gastaldo, a female officer who was working as his subordinate and that he had sex with her in his RCMP police cruiser while the two worked in a special surveillance unit in Burnaby.
Pearson admitted to those actions through an agreed statement of facts entered in an RCMP disciplinary hearing Monday.
Pearson's lawyer Const. James Roland said Pearson is taking responsibility for the wrongs the RCMP has accused him of.
But the admissions do not include other allegations levelled at him during the disciplinary hearing, including complaints by Gastaldo that Pearson sexually harassed her and forced her into the relationship. Pearson has also not admitted to accusations of sexual harassment made by a second woman, a civilian employee of the North Vancouver RCMP, who was subpoenaed by Gastaldo's lawyer and told the tribunal last month that Pearson stalked her and forced her into a sexual relationship while the two worked together at the North Vancouver detachment. That relationship ended two years ago, in 2009.
Pearson's acknowledgment that he had used police property inappropriately to carry on a sexual relationship while on the job came on the first day that the hearing resumed, following explosive testimony from the North Vancouver witness last month.
The RCMP has agreed the cases against Pearson and Gastaldo will continue separately.
In a joint submission, Roland and the RCMP conduct prosecutor Greg Rose asked the tribunal to give Pearson a reprimand and dock him 10 days' pay as punishment for his actions.
But the tribunal warned Pearson it may impose a stiffer penalty. "We may be imposing a greater sanction than that being sought," the chief adjudicator said, adding demotion and dismissal are both possible penalties under the act.
"We could be looking at a demotion," he said, adding the fact Pearson was a supervisor in a sexual relationship with a subordinate at a time when he knew she was on a gradual reentry to work from medical leave is an aggravating factor in the case.
As the hearing continued into what sanctions Pearson should face, Roland called Pearson's wife to testify as a character witness. The woman, who has been married to Pearson since 1995, urged the tribunal to be lenient with her husband.
"He has admitted to his wrongdoing and he's trying to make amends," she said. "He deserves a chance."
Pearson's wife - who Roland asked not be named - said her husband was always proud of being an RCMP officer even teaching an "introduction to policing" course for youth.
She told tribunal members that she doesn't depend on Pearson financially and has stayed with him despite the revelations of his affairs because she loves him, not because she has to.
She described many of the allegations that have been levelled at her husband as "lies."
"I would not be with this man if I thought he was the monster he's been made out to be," she said.
The disciplinary hearing continues this week.