A Surrey RCMP constable has been re-hired and is awaiting a second hearing after appealing his firing in 2018 for exchanging “inappropriate sexual and personal text messages” with a woman who was a survivor of domestic abuse.
The conduct appeal decision, dated Sept. 8, 2021, notes adjudicator Steve Dunn will “allow the appeal” for Const. Andrew Scott Hedderson and ordered a new hearing “before a differently constituted conduct board.”
Dunn also noted in his decision that Hedderson, in the meantime, was to be “reappointed as a member of the RCMP from the dismissal date,” with retroactive pay and allowances.
In a decision dated Dec. 17, 2018, an RCMP conduct board found Hedderson “engaged in discreditable conduct by showing a revealing picture of himself and exchanging inappropriate sexual and personal text messages” with the victim.
The board also found Hedderson “failed to diligently perform duties and take appropriate action to aid” the woman. He was dismissed from his job and the board imposed a forfeiture of 15 days’ pay for failing to perform his duties.
The allegations stem from a March 27, 2017 incident when the woman was allegedly assaulted by her boyfriend in a Safeway parking lot on 152 Street. Hedderson went to the woman’s home the next day for a statement, but “noting her reluctance to trust the police,” he spent “some time trying to build a rapport” with her.
“Noting that ‘…I’m a fairly charming dude…’, and wanting to get a statement from (the woman) … (Hedderson) continued to build a rapport, and he felt she was ‘kinda flirting’ so he used it to his advantage to make her feel more comfortable in order to get a statement,” the decision stated.
Hedderson asked her if she had pictures of her injuries from the assault, so she showed him a picture taken before she had a shower, but she did not realize it showed her breasts, the decision added.
Shortly after that, Hedderson said, he showed her a photograph of his genitals, adding that was a “big mistake.”
The two reportedly exchanged a total of 323 text messages, which included messages from Hedderson of a sexual nature, the woman said.
The decision notes that Hedderson said he is “fairly certain I was the one who started” the inappropriate texting.
It was on March 30, 2017, that Hedderson said he realized what he had done was inappropriate, and blocked her number after she allegedly threatened to destroy his career.
Then, when the woman attended her ex-boyfriend’s court hearing, she advised Crown Counsel of the text exchanges.
A conduct board was appointed on Dec. 21, 2017.
On Dec. 26, 2018, Hedderson applied to appeal the decision, saying the conduct measures imposed were “unreasonable and overly punitive” and “that the board was biased in the decision-making process.”
He said the board breached his right to procedural fairness by not holding an in-person hearing, as well as determining the woman was a “vulnerable person,” so she didn’t have to testify.
The decision doesn’t say when a second hearing will be scheduled.