Former NL cop named in sexual assault trial denies allegations and seeks publication ban

ST. JOHN’S, NL – A former Newfoundland police officer named in a civil lawsuit alleging he raped a co-worker denies any wrongdoing and is seeking a publication ban on his name, according to court documents.

Former Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Sergeant Robert Baldwin has also asked the provincial Supreme Court to intervene in the lawsuit against the provincial government.

A request filed July 12 says Baldwin “denies these allegations against him … in their entirety.” The document says that because he is not a named party in the lawsuit, he “was not given notice of the action, nor was he given an opportunity to present a defense.”

His request for a publication ban says he never sexually touched anyone in the line of duty, including the plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Both petitions were filed Friday in the provincial Supreme Court. Judge Glen Noel said he would not grant a temporary publication ban on Baldwin’s name and scheduled a hearing for August 23 to hear the request.

The lawsuit filed this year in the provincial Supreme Court alleges that Baldwin raped a fellow provincial police officer in 2014 after he offered to drive her home. The allegations have not been tested in court and no criminal charges have been brought.

The lawsuit names the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador as the defendant, as the agency responsible for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

The court hearing took place the same day the province released a review of the police force workplace, led by attorney Harriet Lewis.

The review was announced last October, about three months after St. John’s attorney Lynn Moore announced that she had heard from several women alleging crimes, including sexual assault, committed by police officers. the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Moore has since said some of those women are preparing for civil action.

In May 2021, Const. Carl Douglas Snelgrove was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in his living room in 2014, after he offered to drive her home after a night out drinking in downtown St. John’s.

In her report, Lewis said she asked about sexual misconduct in the workplace with most of the people she spoke to forcefully.

“I was somewhat surprised that no one we spoke to was shocked by the information made public by the lawsuits,” she wrote. “That said, few have admitted to knowing of such behavior from fellow officers.”

She concluded that the force has “deep ties” to the communities it serves, but has morale issues as well as a widespread fear of discipline and reprisal within its ranks. His report includes nine recommendations, including that an agent or office be designated as a place of trust where employees can report misconduct concerns.

“I do not believe there is a generalized disconnect and distance between the force and the people of the province that may be present in larger, less integrated communities,” Lewis wrote.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 15, 2022.

Jacob L. Thornton