Saturday, July 20, 2024

Former Royal Roads instructor and VPD officer accused of sexual misconduct

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Before he was an officer with Vancouver Police Department (VPD), Sergeant Keiron McConnell was an instructor at Royal Roads University. 

Now, McConnell is being investigated by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) on allegations of sexual misconduct. 

He has been a police officer for over 33 years, 18 of which he has served as a sergeant, specializing in gang-related crimes. 

In addition to his years as a police officer, McConnell taught at numerous higher educational institutions such as Royal Roads University, as well as at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. 

According to VPD, in December 2021, a photo was posted on social media of McConnell and two other VPD officers. The comment section began to fill with people accusing him of being a “sexual predator” and having a “history of sexually assaulting his students” while at Royal Roads. 

Shortly after this, a female colleague became aware of the comments and came forward with a text exchange she had with McConnell in 2018. 

With the exchange, she alleged that McConnell became increasingly sexual in the messages. She told the OPCC that she felt unsafe reporting the incident to VPD at the time, although she wanted to. 

In their investigation, the OPCC say they found that McConnell had inappropriate text exchanges with four students who attended his classes at Royal Roads between 2015 and 2019. 

The first student says that McConnell invited her and some other classmates out for drinks, but she felt uncomfortable with how he was acting. 

She added that he boarded her taxi without permission when she left, and upon arrival at her destination, he prevented her from leaving and attempted to kiss her. 

The second student says he texted her on her personal phone, which she considered to be inappropriate, and continued to do so along with emailing her numerous times. She says she did not know where he got her number from and reported the incident to Royal Roads. 

A third student says she received a number of Facebook messages which included sexual euphemisms and terms. She added that because she aspired to be a police officer, she did not report the behaviour, thinking McConnell would somehow prevent her from achieving her goal. 

This student ended up abandoning the notion of becoming a police officer and in the OPCC report, cites McConnell’s behaviour as the reason. 

The OPCC received a fourth student report who alleged he sent her sexually inappropriate messages while attending Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in Surrey. 

In addition to sending these students sexual and inappropriate messages, the OPCC received reports from two subordinate female officers that were similar in nature. 

Both officers say that between 2015 and 2019 McConnell made sexual comments about them both in-person and via messaging and alleged he did the same thing to colleagues of theirs. 

One of these women reported that she would often receive messages from him at night while off-duty, many of which implied he had fantasies about engaging in sexual acts with her.

“During the investigation, Sergeant McConnell admitted to sending some of the messages as alleged; however, he stated that, among other things, the communications were intended to be private and were exchanged between consenting adults,” reads the OPCC’s report.  

“Sergeant McConnell maintained that, had the recipients of these communications told him to cease, he would have done so.” 

The report added that he disputed some of the allegations made by the students and in general denied any allegations of “discreditable conduct” from all seven women. 

In the end, six of the seven women’s complaints were substantiated for the record and the investigation was assigned to VPD by the OPCC, even though McConnell had served with VPD. 

The OPCC determined a public hearing will be necessary for this case because of the nature and seriousness of the alleged misconduct. 

The hearing is to take place on Wednesday July 3rd.

mm
Curtis Blandy
curtis@victoriabuzz.com

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