Richmond RCMP is leading a code-of-conduct inquiry into a Mountie who played a bit part in the investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton and appeared on an Internet website posing in sexually explicit torture images reminiscent of the pig-farmer's crimes.
In some of the graphic pictures obtained by media, Coquitlam Cpl. Jim Brown appears to wear only his regulation-issue Mountie boots and an erection as he wields a huge knife and a bound naked woman cringes in terror.
The narrative of the still photographs, posted on an S&M website, progresses from an apparent street scene of the woman walking past Brown sitting on a wall; he overpowers her; he hog-ties her, he imprisons her in a cage, he threatens her with a large butcher knife and he slashes her.
His detachment commander, Supt. Claude Wilcott, said that when he became aware of the material on the Web earlier this year, he discussed the issue with the force's legal services to determine if there was a violation of the Mountie code of conduct.
"The alleged issue was deemed to be off-duty, non-criminal, adult consensual activity during which the individual was not representing himself as a member of the RCMP and thus it did not appear to legal services to meet the threshold for a code-of-conduct violation," he said.
"Despite this legal opinion, a code-of-conduct investigation is under-way to determine if there are any additional facts and ensure the fullest review possible. While I agree the staged images are graphic, it's important to note that they appear only on an adult site catering to those who seek them out."
Mike Webster, who has had a career counselling police officers and advising departments, including the RCMP, said the sexual degradation of women in the images raises serious concerns.
And he thought the initial response of the national force cavalier.
"The fact that Mr. Brown could engage in these activities without considering current attitudes toward this type of behaviour indicates to me that his empathetic abilities are impaired," Webster said.
During a brief telephone call Wednesday at the detachment, Brown declined to comment about the pictures and the "Kilted Knight" persona featured in them.
He acknowledged being aware of the material.
"I am familiar with an internal investigation that was conducted," Brown said tersely. "It concluded in March or April and it was decided it was a non-issue - There was no victim."
Lawyer Jason Gratl was astounded by the images and said Brown's even peripheral involvement in the missing women investigation was troubling.
Gratl, who represented Down-town Eastside community groups at the public inquiry into the Pickton police investigation, wondered why Commissioner Wally Oppal wasn't informed when he was conducting hearings at the very moment the RCMP learned of the material.
"This pictorial enactment of a kid-napping and torture by an RCMP investigator crystallizes the ethical nexus between the detachment and the farm," Gratl said.
"Investigators from the detachment informed Pickton he was a suspect while he was still under investigation. While the enactment of the kidnapping of a young woman from a place that resembles Strathcona to a dimly lit rural setting where she is put in an animal cage and tortured may have occurred after the terms of reference [of the inquiry], its relevance ... is indisputable."
But Supt. Wilcott maintained in an email that to "associate this to a more than decade old investigation into a serial killer ... is an incredible leap. If you would like to check back with me in a couple weeks I may be in a better position to provide more information as I expect the investigation to be submitted to me in the near future."
Art Vertlieb, counsel for the inquiry, said he only learned about the situation late Wednesday and would be seeking an explanation.
Brown did not appear at the Missing Women's Inquiry or at the Pick-ton trial.
His name, however, appears on the "Key Events Chronology" exhibit filed for one of the policing panels.
In an entry dated July 16, 1999, it reads: "[Vancouver Police officer Geramy] Field receives call from Cst. Jim Brown (Coquitlam RCMP) re [source Ross] Caldwell; assigns tip to [officer Mark Chernoff."
Chernoff and his partner were assigned the task of interviewing Caldwell, the second tipster to con-tact authorities and finger Pickton nearly three years before he was arrested.
Caldwell lived on Pickton's farm and provided key information about the killer, but the inquiry was told the RCMP questioned his credibility.