The Ottawa Police Service will launch a criminal investigation after a former officer called for a probe into what appears to be a fraudulent report by someone posing as a psychologist who was assessing her ability to work on patrol.
Const. Kimberly Cadarette said she was ordered into therapy by OPS managers in 2007 to determine if she was fit for duty after complaining to the chief about sexual harassment and bullying by members of her platoon.
Following that complaint, she said, she was told to visit Dr. Ron Frey, a certified psychologist, for weekly sessions at a designated time and location. Her nine-page psychological report bears Frey’s electronic signature and is written on his company letterhead. Frey is a psychologist who has worked with the Department of National Defence and the RCMP.
Frey, however, said in an interview that he did not write the report.
Staff working with the OPS wellness program had known about the possible fraud for eight months, but there was no apparent move toward an investigation until CBC made inquiries.
In order to verify details, CBC News arranged for the therapist and the officer to meet in person. In an astonishing moment captured on video, both Cadarette and Frey denied ever meeting face-to-face until then.
“I don’t even know what to say right now. It’s ruined me,” Cadarette said as she burst into tears upon realizing the man in front of her was not the therapist who treated her 14 years earlier.
After a year and a half with the Ottawa Police Service, Cadarette transferred to Peel Regional Police in 2008. She still works with the force in the Greater Toronto Area. Cadarette believes details of the OPS fraudulent report leaked out, tainting her career.
“We’re 2021 and this happened in 2007 and to this day I’m still referred to at work as crazy and I can’t be trusted. So this has never left me.”
Cadarette wants Ottawa police to find the imposter.
The OPS said it was made aware last November of a potential fraud involving the use of the name of a doctor participating in their wellness program.
Initially, the force had said there was no criminal investigation underway, but reversed course after CBC sent an email to Chief Peter Sloly on Tuesday inquiring about the possibility of an internal investigation.
“We take these types of calls very seriously. A criminal investigation will be conducted on this matter and we will be speaking to all parties involved,” media relations manager Carole Lavigne said in an email 2½ hours after CBC’s inquiry to the chief.
Cadarette called the OPS decision to do a criminal investigation “lip service.”
“Why didn’t they listen to me 15 years ago? I feel like they’re just playing games,” she said in an interview Tuesday night.
In 2007, Cadarette, a new recruit, moved from Amherstburg, just outside Windsor, to take on her “dream job” with the Ottawa police.
“I love working people. I love the community. I love seeing the smiles on people’s faces and knowing that I’ve made a difference,” Cadarette said as she showed photos from her first year on the job.
Cadarette had recently broken off a long-term relationship and said she found herself becoming the target of unwanted attention from her male colleagues.
In her diary entries from the spring of 2007, she wrote about how a staff sergeant told her he wished he wasn’t married and how at least four other officers made comments about her physical appearance or inquired about her sex life.
She said one constable accused her of having “multiple personalities” when she spurned his advances. After complaining to her supervisors, Cadarette said she was bullied at work and ostracized.
Frustrated by a lack of action, Cadarette said she walked into the office of the chief at the time, Vern White, without an appointment.
“I was upset. I was a mess. I told him everything.”
WATCH | Const. Kimberly Cadarette talks about the toll of the fake mental health report:
A few weeks later, Cadarette said, she spoke with two civilian OPS employees at a Lonestar restaurant after they asked to meet her there.
Cadarette said the manager of health and safety and a recruiter informed her that the chief wanted her firearm to be taken away and for her to be put on desk duty until she was evaluated by a psychologist. They told Cadarette her handgun was being removed from her locker as they spoke.
In a diary entry dated Sept. 21, 2007, Cadarette noted that she had a “first meeting with Dr. Frey recommended by the chief.”
Cadarette told CBC she expressed frustration about the decision to her colleagues.
“I never indicated that I was going to hurt myself. And that was the big question. I said, ‘I’m telling you what’s going on and now you’re taking my gun away. Why am I being punished?'”
CBC has been unable to reach the two civilian supervisors that she met at the restaurant.
White, who is now a senator, was the OPS chief from 2007 to 2012. He said he remembers Cadarette’s name but does not recall meeting her in person.
White said it’s unlikely he would have asked two civilian employees to tell an officer their sidearm was being removed. He said that’s the responsibility of senior officers.
“I have never requested civilians be involved in the removal of any officer’s use of force. I’ve never done it in 32 years of policing,” said White. He also said it’s the force’s doctor that recommends mental health assessments, not the chief.
Cadarette said her weekly therapy sessions were always scheduled for noon while she was on duty.
She said she met with a man who introduced himself as Frey at a medical clinic on the University of Ottawa campus.
She remembers that the therapist drove a dark blue minivan. Cadarette said from the first moment she set foot in the room, she was suspicious. They sat on folding chairs for their one-hour sessions.
“He was almost like he was condescending — there was no concern from him,” Cadarette said when describing his demeanour.
In the report, the author said he would test her “level of paranoia” by unexpectedly showing up at her place of employment, intentionally filing reports later than promised and scheduling and cancelling appointments on short notice.
Cadarette said the person she was seeing for the therapy sessions would sometimes show up at the front desk where she worked and “stand there and just stare at me.”
On her fifth appointment, Cadarette accused the psychologist of being an imposter. She said she handed him a copy of the Criminal Code section 403, which identifies impersonation of another person as identity fraud.
The OPS said it will not comment on Cadarette’s alleged harassment in order to respect her privacy.
In a recent interview, Frey was left grasping for words after reading Cadarette’s mental health assessment, which bore his electronic signature.
“It’s distressing. I can’t believe it’s happening,” said Frey, who vehemently denies writing the report. “I want to be clear that I didn’t assess her.”
Frey said he would not try to trigger a patient’s paranoia by showing up at their workplace for surprise visits or making last-minute cancellations.
“That would be, first of all, atypical and highly unethical and not something that I can imagine any psychologist engaging in.”
In describing his office near the university, he said he had a window overlooking the street and a desk with plush chairs for his patients. The clinician said he has never owned a minivan.
WATCH | Dr. Ron Frey says he didn’t write the psychological report that bears his name
There are sections of the report that Frey said mirror his writing style, but he flags concerns about the tone.
“It seems like potentially setting up an officer for failure,” said Frey, who says the alleged fraud is not “completely implausible.”
In 2007, Frey said he would have mailed or faxed documents directly to the health and wellness office that was located at OPS headquarters where hundreds of employees worked. Frey says he notified Ottawa police of the alleged fraud last fall, after Cadarette’s lawyers contacted him.
“This actually takes it to another level because this is probably criminal, I would think.… It also has an impact not just on this particular police officer, but on the profession of psychology.”
Calls for an investigation
Toronto lawyer Peter Brauti, who represents Cadarette, said his client has information that cannot be ignored.
CBC News has seen Cadarette’s record of benefits from the health insurance company used by Ottawa police. The record shows only dental claims and no claims paid to a psychologist during her time on the force.
“The more questions we asked, the more questions we ended up with,” said Brauti. “And we came to the conclusion that she’s definitely been manipulated by somebody in a very sinister way.”
Brauti said the OPS has been unwilling to turn over Cadarette’s records that she has requested. That’s why he’s calling for the Office of the Independent Police Review Director to investigate.
“When police forces are acting properly, those investigations can be appropriate and well done. But in something like this, this definitely needs an outside body to take on the investigation.”
As for Cadarette, the meeting with Frey was both a relief and a realization of her worst fears.
“I’m not paranoid. I’m not crazy. [Women officers] are not being heard. We’re not being listened to.”