Canadian Chief Guilt of Sexually Assaulting Subordinates

A Canadian fire chief has been convicted of sexual assaulting three of his subordinates in the fire station.

Robert Bennett, who was the fire chief of the Fort St. James Fire Department in British Columbia, was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault in the BC Supreme Court. He is to be sentenced next week.

Bennett, 51, was accused of groping and inappropriately touching Kirsten Rudolph, 46, Lisa Button, 48, and Joy Reierson, 46. According to the women, the chief’s bad behavior began back in 2007, but they only came forward in 2013.

The Prince George Citizen quoted B.C. Supreme Court Justice Glenn Parrett as saying that Chief Bennett had “effectively abandoned any pretense of effective leadership” and provided “little but a display of his intoxication and bad behaviour.” In rendering his decision, Judge Parrett rejected defense arguments that the women “colluded” in filing their complaints.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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