A video allegedly showed an RCMP officer sexually harassing
an Indigenous teen. Then it went missing. Inside allegations of
misconduct and cover-up in Canada’s national police force

Jessica McDiarmid with files from Kieran Leavitt, Toronto Star, Nov. 6, 2022


RCMP Garry Kerr Lisa Mackenzie Joseph Kohut Toronto Star image

From left: now-retired RCMP Staff Sgt. Garry Kerr, RCMP Const. Lisa Mackenzie
and now retired RCMP Const. Joseph Kohut. (Image: Toronto Star)


RCMP Const. Lisa Mackenzie was on patrol in her squad car in Kamloops, B.C., when she got a call from her watch supervisor.

He said her ex-husband, fellow RCMP Const. Joseph Kohut, had just kicked in her door. She might want to head home to board up her house.

When Mackenzie arrived at the home she’d previously shared with Kohut, she found the front door flattened, the windows surrounding it shattered. That day in January 2006, her attention was consumed with covering the gaping hole in her house with plywood before her young son got home from school. She didn’t immediately notice anything missing.

Mackenzie was interviewed about the break-in by an investigating officer from the Kamloops detachment. She had transferred to the city on the northern fringe of the Okanagan from Prince George, B.C., following Kohut, whom she wed in December 2004 in a union that lasted less than a year.

While Kohut admitted kicking in the door, he said it was because Mackenzie had changed the locks and he wanted to retrieve some belongings.

A few days afterward, Mackenzie realized the video tapes were gone.

That moment marked the beginning of what has become a 16-year-and-counting saga of the RCMP promising multiple times — and failing — to investigate allegations of criminal wrongdoing against its own.

The allegations are serious: that two RCMP officers were involved in taking video tapes from Mackenzie’s home that may have contained evidence relevant to a previous investigation. For nearly a year, a task force had looked into complaints that RCMP officers had sexually harassed, assaulted and exploited youth living on the streets in Prince George.

If officers were found to have colluded to suppress potential video evidence of those alleged abuses, it could amount to criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Despite a senior officer pursuing the matter for years, pushing it up the ladder all the way to the RCMP commissioner in Ottawa, the force, in the words of one high-ranking member, “dropped the ball.”

The Star obtained confidential reports of an investigation into the RCMP’s handling of the allegations conducted by the watchdog agency the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC), as well as related correspondence, transcripts and notes. The Star interviewed Mackenzie, the alleged sexual harassment victim, and now-retired Staff Sergeant Garry Kerr, who, after five years of attempting to have the allegations dealt with internally, complained to the watchdog in 2016.

The allegations involving the video tapes are not proven. They were never really investigated at all.


A couple days before the break-in at Mackenzie’s home in January 2006, she was in her basement sorting through belongings. She and Kohut had separated in May 2005, the house had just sold and she was moving.

She says she came across a box of mini video tapes she figured were of her son and popped one into her handheld video camera.

Mackenzie says the footage showed Kohut and another police officer, seemingly off-duty, cruising around downtown Prince George, pulling up to an Indigenous teen and heckling her about her breasts.

“Something to the effect of, ‘Are those, oh, I don’t think your boobs are real,’ ” recounts Mackenzie. When the girl insisted her breasts were real, Kohut and his companion allegedly said, “Yeah, we don’t believe that. You have to show us,” and the girl did, Mackenzie says.

Mackenzie had worked patrol in downtown Prince George; she recognized the tough-talking teenager with the big, brown eyes. The girl was one of many Indigenous youth on the streets of the city.

Mackenzie says she stopped watching the tape after a few minutes and put in another, on which she recognized her ex-husband’s voice mocking an Indigenous woman in the doorway of a basement suite. “He’s making fun of her, the way she’s talking,” says Mackenzie.

Mackenzie says she didn’t know what to do. She felt the tapes might be evidence related to an investigation into allegations that Kohut and a slew of other RCMP officers in Prince George had engaged in inappropriate, in some cases, abusive, behaviour toward Indigenous youth on the streets.

Kohut had always denied any wrongdoing and would go on to sue the RCMP for malicious prosecution. He did not respond to the Star’s request for comment about the alleged tapes or their disappearance and was not interviewed by the CRCC during its investigation.

Mackenzie alleges she called Staff Sgt. Bill Goughnour, one of the few senior officers she knew in her new detachment, and told him about the tapes.

“I remember exactly what I said to him: ‘I don’t want them, take them, get them out of here,” says Mackenzie. “And he told me to keep them there and to hide them.” Mackenzie made that allegation to the CRCC, which also interviewed Goughnour. But the report doesn’t say whether he denies Mackenzie’s allegations. The Star could not reach him for comment.

Mackenzie says she left the tapes where she’d found them in the basement, except one she set aside after watching several minutes that she says showed a former romantic partner of Kohut in what appeared to be an intoxicated state while Kohut, behind the camera, made disparaging remarks. Mackenzie intended to give the tape to the woman. “If it was me, I would want someone to make sure I got it.”

She didn’t report the missing tapes to the RCMP. She was afraid; she didn’t trust the Kamloops detachment after how it handled the break-in. Kohut had not been charged after the Crown deemed the file “civil in nature.”

“You gotta understand, I didn’t want any part of it,” says Mackenzie. “I’m a three-year member at this point. This is a world of crap coming out and I don’t want anything to do with it.”


Mackenzie met Joseph Kohut in about 2000, a few years before she went to “depot,” the RCMP training academy in Regina, Sask. An RCMP member since 1991, Kohut was known for his charisma, his good looks, his tough-guy demeanour. He was someone other officers looked up to.

He worked the streets of Prince George, a small city in central British Columbia. Home to about 75,000 people, it was a rough town, a place where people from smaller communities further north ended up, fleeing bad situations or looking for better ones.

It was also a place where, throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, a provincial court judge was sexually exploiting and assaulting Indigenous youth. David Ramsay pleaded guilty in May 2004 to five charges including sexual assault causing bodily harm, paying for sex with minors and breach of trust.

The crimes he committed took place over a period of nine years. His victims were between the ages of 12 and 16. Some were, by day, in front of Ramsay in his capacity as a judge. And then, he preyed upon them after he left the courthouse at night. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, where he died in 2008.

The allegations didn’t stop at Ramsay. Some of his victims, and others in Prince George, also implicated the police, alleging as many as nine RCMP officers committed sexual harassment and assault, engaged underaged youth in sexual acts and perpetrated other misconduct.

One of the accused officers was Kohut.

While the RCMP had for years been aware of allegations involving its officers, it was only in June 2004, after Ramsay pleaded guilty, that the Mounties struck a task force to probe the allegations.

Dubbed Project E-Prevails, the task force concluded its work in April 2005. Kohut was suspended with pay as the RCMP also launched an internal code of conduct investigation.

Seven months later, the RCMP concluded the code of conduct allegations against Kohut were unsubstantiated and the Crown declined to lay criminal charges. Kohut returned to full duties in December 2005.

The following month, January 2006, was when Mackenzie found the video tapes she alleges showed Kohut behaving inappropriately. After he kicked in her door and she discovered the tapes were missing, she didn’t tell anyone else for more than five years.


Staff Sergeant Garry Kerr was at home in Kamloops on a Saturday night in June 2011. He’d been in the RCMP for more than 30 years at that point, a farm kid from the prairies who joined at 18 and worked his way up from “grunt” to homicide investigator. By 2011, Kerr was in charge of the Major Crimes Unit at the Kamloops detachment.

His phone rang around 7 p.m. It was Lisa Mackenzie, a junior officer he hardly knew.

Mackenzie says she called Kerr after talking about the alleged tapes to the man, also an RCMP officer, she’d married after Kohut. Her spouse encouraged her to report it and suggested Kerr was someone she could trust.

“He had a reputation for just being an honest, solid sort of member,” says Mackenzie.

Kerr’s scrawled notes of the conversation outline what Mackenzie alleged happened five years earlier: finding the tapes and watching as officers harassed the tough-talking teenager with the big, brown eyes, telling Goughnour, Kohut kicking in her door.

The last line reads: “She is scared.”

When Kerr hung up the phone, his mind was racing.

“What she said was extremely, extremely serious,” says Kerr. “I was stunned. But I believed her. I still do.”

Kerr sent an email that night to the top brass of the B.C. RCMP alerting them to the situation. The next morning, Kerr spoke on the phone with the chief superintendent in charge of the province, who relayed the complaint to other senior officers. They agreed Mackenzie needed to be interviewed.

A couple days later, a sergeant with the Kamloops Professional Standards Unit — tasked with probing complaints about RCMP officers — was assigned to speak to Mackenzie.

That sergeant later reported Mackenzie was “uncooperative” after she cancelled a scheduled interview at the last moment. Mackenzie says she did not want to speak to an investigator from the local detachment because she didn’t trust them.

After that, no one else contacted her.

Months passed. Kerr was frustrated that, as far as he could tell, nothing was being done. He called Tony Hamori, an old friend and high-ranking officer in Alberta.

Hamori promised to intervene. In early December 2011, an investigator interviewed Mackenzie and Kerr. The investigator asked Mackenzie for the tape she still had after the break-in, the one she’d set aside to return to Kohut’s previous ex.

Mackenzie never suggested that tape contained potential evidence. She said she had only watched a few minutes of footage of Kohut allegedly mocking his former partner. But inside the RCMP, rumours swirled that this tape allegedly showed Kohut and another officer cruising around Prince George on duty and asking sex workers to show their breasts. Still, nine months passed before the RCMP finally picked it up.

A high-ranking officer would later tell the CRCC he watched the tape and it contained nothing relevant to the earlier investigation into police wrongdoing. Ordinarily, an RCMP officer would document each investigative action, such as viewing a video tape for potential evidence, and enter that information into a case file. But the CRCC found no record anyone reviewed the tape — nor that a case file ever existed.

The video tape then disappeared.


Kerr retired from the RCMP in March 2012. But the situation continued to irk him. In January 2015, he wrote to Bob Paulson, then-commissioner of the RCMP, outlining, among other things, his concerns with what he considered an inadequate response to serious allegations.

In a letter dated September 2015, B.C.’s top brass responded to Kerr that a high-ranking RCMP member had reviewed “all available material on this matter.”

“Southeast District resources ultimately investigated all allegations including pursuing the circumstances of the alleged break, enter and theft of the video tape …” the letter read. “Crown provided an opinion that the file was civil and the tape did not contain evidence of criminal wrongdoing by RCMP members in Prince George.”

A thorough review never happened, nor was the file sent to the Crown for a legal opinion, though Kerr didn’t know it then. Unsatisfied with the response, he filed a complaint to the CRCC in August of 2016.

The CRCC concluded the allegations could constitute misconduct under the RCMP Code of Conduct and criminal offences — obstruction of justice and/or criminal conspiracy. It notes Kohut’s actions allegedly recorded on the tapes could “constitute supporting evidence of his suspected criminal conduct with underaged sex-trade workers in Prince George.”

Despite the seriousness of the allegations, the report finds “there is no indication that anyone was clearly designated to lead an inquiry into Staff Sergeant Kerr’s report of Constable Mackenzie’s allegations, or that a file was created to track the matter.”

After Kerr and Mackenzie gave statements in December, 2011, no one “ensured that a reasonable assessment was conducted in the first place, let alone a reasonable investigation,” the commission notes.

No one spoke to Mackenzie after the statement she gave in 2011.

Despite repeated assurances to Kerr that the allegations had been reviewed, there were no records of it. The investigation the RCMP said occurred in 2015 wasn’t an assessment or investigation into Mackenzie’s allegations but rather “focused almost exclusively” on finding the lost video tape, the commission notes.

The commission recommended the RCMP assess the allegations “without delay” to determine whether they supported a reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct and if so, that an investigation be conducted. It also recommended Kerr be kept informed of the process and the commissioner apologize to him.

It took more than two years for the RCMP to respond. When Commissioner Brenda Lucki finally did, she agreed with all its findings and recommendations.


Shortly after suing the RCMP in late 2007, Kohut went on extended medical leave as he pursued his malicious prosecution lawsuit against the RCMP for its investigation into allegations of wrongdoing in Prince George.

Kohut alleged in the lawsuit that the complainants were “dishonest and unreliable,” gave statements “with clear falsehoods, inconsistencies, contradictions, and admitted lies” and were “motivated to falsely accuse Cst. Kohut.” The lawsuit was settled out of court in 2014 and Kohut retired from the force in 2015.

Mackenzie has been on medical leave from her work in the RCMP since December 2018 after years of battling mental health challenges that she attributes to her experiences in the force. In 2019, she filed a lawsuit alleging harassment. She will retire from the RCMP this month.

According to the RCMP’s online progress reports that track the force’s response to CRCC recommendations, more than 18 months after the final report was completed in March 2021 — and more than four years after the interim report was provided to the RCMP — these undertakings are “in progress.”

Kerr received an apology signed by Lucki in November 2021 that reads, in part, “I apologize for the untimely and incomplete response to the allegations made by Constable Mackenzie that were reported by yourself.”

The RCMP commissioner’s letter said the process of assessing and, if need be, investigating the allegations was “ongoing.”

But a year later, Mackenzie has not been contacted for an interview, nor has Kerr, and he has not been updated about any assessment or investigation — another one of the recommendations to which the commissioner agreed. Kerr says he’s concerned the Mounties might “sweep the whole thing under the rug” again. The RCMP told the Star a review is ongoing.

Kerr says he felt vindicated by the CRCC’s findings but “really, really angry, and betrayed” that the organization he put 32 years into had ignored him and lied to him.

But it isn’t his feelings that matter, he says.

“The issue that was always at the forefront for me is that this involved the alleged sexual abuse of young First Nations girls. And the RCMP, at the highest levels, turned a blind eye to it, failed to act on any level, covered it up and then lied about it,” says Kerr. “It makes me so angry for those young girls.”


The tough-talking teenager with the big, brown eyes that Mackenzie says she recognized in the video was Dana Gerow.

Gerow is 38 now. As a child, she was placed in foster care and then group homes before landing on the tough streets of Prince George. She survived difficult years most of her friends did not.

Gerow says she does not remember the incident Mackenzie describes seeing on the alleged video tape. But she says she recalls Kohut having a video camera in hand in his car when interacting with her and she says he frequently sexually harassed her when she was a teen.

“He used to say, ‘Nice boobs,’ and, ‘Show me your crotch, Miss Gerow, I’d like to see your p-,’ ” she says.

One of her friends, a victim of the judge David Ramsay, gave statements alleging abuse by RCMP officers. Gerow says investigators also questioned her about the judge and cops but she was reluctant to fully participate. The belief among youth on the streets was that giving statements against police officers would result in retaliation, she says.

“I didn’t trust the cops, f- that,” she says.

Gerow eventually got out of Prince George, went back to school and on to college, became a mother. She still struggles with anger and trauma from her youth. She still doesn’t trust the police or believe there will be justice or accountability for what allegedly happened in Prince George. She’s still looking over her shoulder for those cops she alleges abused her and her friends so many years ago.

But she says she wants to help protect girls who are in the places she once was.

“It’s not just (Prince George), it’s eveywhere,” says Gerow. “All of it needs to stop.”

Correction — Nov. 6, 2022: This story has been changed to reflect that RCMP Const. Lisa Mackenzie married Const. Joseph Kohut in December 2004, not May 2004.

With files from Kieran Leavitt

Jessica McDiarmid is a freelance journalist who can be reached at jessica.mcdiarmid@protonmail.com.

[end of Toronto Star story]

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