The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has found that a Victoria Police officer committed an act of discreditable conduct in an alleged off-duty sexual encounter in Vancouver in 2018.
Sgt. Brent Keleher has been found to have committed an act of discreditable conduct after a sexual encounter with a woman identified as N.O.
The following contains details some readers may find distressing.
The OPCC did not make a finding on whether Keleher committed sexual assault, as adjudicator Wally Oppal noted this is not a criminal trial and the only role of the OPCC is to determine whether there was discreditable conduct.
On the weekend of May 11-13, 2018, N.O. travelled from Victoria to Vancouver to visit a friend who had given birth nine months prior, and Keleher went to Vancouver for a friend’s bachelor party.
Then N.O. and three men, including Keleher, met up at the Shark Club around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 12.
“It would be an understatement to say that a considerable amount of alcohol was consumed by everyone,” Oppal noted in the ruling.
N.O. testified she could not remember how many drinks she had, just that “the drinks just kept on coming”.
The party also went to two other clubs that night, Dublin Calling and The Roxy.
While at The Roxy, videos that were played during the hearing showed the parties moving around the club. One member of the party was seen being physically supported by her friend.
“[The friend] who is 6’7″ tall assumed the role of somewhat of a protector of N.O. because of N.O.’s apparent level of intoxication,” the ruling says.
The parties left The Roxy around 2 a.m., and the women had previously had a plan to take a taxi to the friend’s home in South Surrey, but they decided to stay at the hotel the men were staying at “because we were both really drunk.”
Video shown in the hearing showed N.O. receiving physical assistance from Keleher and her friend.
N.O. testified she does not fully remember what happened, though remembers someone touching her breasts and something being put inside her vagina. She says Keleher pulled her arm back and onto his penis. She says she did not consent to this.
Keleher does not deny a sexual encounter took place, but says N.O. consented and was a “passionate” participant. He says they were kissing passionately and he was stimulating her vagina with his fingers. According to Keleher, she was moaning and she reached over to touch his penis, then he came to the conclusion things had gone too far and he withdrew.
“I find that Sgt. Keleher was, at the very least, reckless as to whether N.O. consented to the sexual act,” Oppal wrote. “Surely it must have been apparent to him, as an experienced officer, that she was clearly vulnerable. Accordingly I must reject his position that she was an equal and consenting participant in the sexual encounter.”
Oppal also found that there was no evidence presented that Keleher had an honest but mistaken belief that N.O. consented to sexual activity.
“As well, from the whole of the evidence, It appears that she was barely aware of her circumstances during the relevant time,” Oppal wrote. “If Sgt. Keleher believed that N.O. consented to the sexual contact, that belief could not be honestly held on a consideration on the whole of the circumstances. An honest belief in consent cannot be based on a guess or assumption.”
Oppal found on the balance of probabilities that Keleher committed an act of discreditable conduct.
Keleher had made an application to the OPCC for his name to be redacted from the proceedings, which was denied.
Now that Oppal has determined Keleher committed discreditable conduct, the hearing will continue where Oppal will decide what disciplinary or corrective measures are appropriate.
In 2010, Keleher was also one of two officers charged with assault relating to the arrest of two brothers in October 2009, according to CBC, though the charges were later dropped.