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Alleged victim of police sexual harassment to 'tell truth' at Pickton inquiry

VANCOUVER - A high-profile Mountie who went public this month with allegations that she was sexually harassed by supervisors says she'll "name names" when she testifies at the inquiry into the Robert Pickton killings in January.

Cpl. Catherine Galliford, who was the RCMP spokeswoman on the Air India and Pickton investigations, said Thursday that police could have obtained a search warrant for convicted serial killer Robert Pickton years before they arrested the B.C. pig farmer.

She said she's read a 1999 Coquitlam RCMP file that nobody seems to be able to locate now.

RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen responded in a written statement, noting it would be inappropriate to comment on anything related to the inquiry.

"You know what? I'm not an armchair quarterback, I'm not," said Galliford. "Never have and never will be. But the minute I read that file I could have put everything together for another search warrant and nothing was done. It was concluded.

"I have to be very careful about what I say right now," she added. "I'm sure that when I testify on behalf of the missing women inquiry, I'll be able to be more forthcoming."

Galliford said the file she read included information that would have allowed police to obtain a search warrant for Pickton's farm.

She said the file had been "purged" from a 1997 file, noting a purge takes place when a file is too big so the information inside is carried over to another year.

"You had a lot of other potential suspects, but in this certain file, we had enough for another search warrant. He wasn't a potential suspect. He was a suspect and there is a difference in the police world."

Police consider a person a suspect, said Galliford, when they have found evidence and can put the person at the scene of a crime.

"At that time in the investigation, Pickton was the only one," she said. "There were potential suspects, but Pickton was the only suspect."

Thiessen said police are taking all of Galliford's allegations seriously.

'"The RCMP has received a statement from Cpl. Galliford," said Thiessen. "The statement contains a number of allegations of member misconduct that are of serious concern to the RCMP."

"The RCMP has initiated a review of these allegations and will take appropriate action to address them."

A review of the Pickton investigation released this week by Jennifer Evans, deputy chief of Ontario's Peel Regional Police, notes several cases where members of the Vancouver police and Coquitlam RCMP considered Pickton their top suspect.

"Pickton was seen as priority for both Coquitlam RCMP and the VPD but neither agency concluded their investigation and neither agency communicated with each other post September 1999," wrote Evans.

She also noted officers should have assigned a higher priority to the investigation, even though Pickton had no criminal convictions before 2002.

Evans referred specifically to an attempted murder charge against Pickton that was dropped in January 1998, his ability to dispose of a body, his presence on the Downtown Eastside and his association with women who worked in the sex trade.

Police arrested Pickton in 2002 after a junior officer obtained a search warrant related to illegal firearms. The officer wasn't a member of the missing women task force.

A jury convicted Pickton of second-degree murder in 2007 for the deaths of six women, although he claimed to have killed as many as 49.

Another 20 murder charges against Pickton were not pursued after the Supreme Court of Canada rejected his appeal of the killings for which he was convicted.

Galliford said she'll have her own lawyer present when she testifies at the inquiry, but added she doesn't know the specific date yet.

"I think it will be easier for me at the inquiry because I'll actually be able to name names, and say this is what happened, this is what I saw transpiring and I'll be able to speak about it in more detail, but I'm trying to be very careful right now because I don't want to hurt anybody and I don't want to trigger anybody," she said.

"I just want to tell the truth."

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version reported that Picton was convicted in 1997.

-Keven Drews reports for Canadian Press

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