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Former Medicine Hat police chief alleges harassment led to resignation in $1.8M lawsuit

Former Medicine Hat police chief Mike Worden is suing the service, the City of Medicine Hat and several officers, alleging he was forced to resign after a targeted campaign of harassment.  (Facebook - image credit)
Former Medicine Hat police chief Mike Worden is suing the service, the City of Medicine Hat and several officers, alleging he was forced to resign after a targeted campaign of harassment. (Facebook - image credit)

Former Medicine Hat police chief Mike Worden has filed a $1.85-million lawsuit alleging he was the victim of a targeted harassment campaign, including a blackmail attempt, designed to force him to resign.

Worden, who had a 25-year career with the Calgary Police Service, began a five-year contract as Medicine Hat's police chief in January 2021 but resigned in May 2022.

The lawsuit names the City of Medicine Hat, the Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS), three officers — Constables Noel Darr, Brent Secondiak and Carissa Witkowski — and a woman.

Worden and the woman were in a three-month romantic relationship in 2021 while she was also dating Darr, according to the statement of claim filed earlier this month in the Court of King's Bench of Alberta.

None of the details from the lawsuit have been proven in court and statements of defence have not yet been filed.

Sexual misconduct allegations

The lawsuit alleges that over a six-month period in 2022, the three officers acted together to harass, defame and interfere with Worden's employment to the point that he would be forced to resign.

The officers are accused of issuing a false complaint to the police service, alleging Worden used his position as chief of police to commit sexual misconduct.

The lawsuit also alleges the officers and women reported false information to journalists that resulted in published details that damaged Worden's reputation.

On March 3, 2022, Worden alleges Secondiak informed him that several police service employees had "embarrassing sexual-related electronic messages" between Worden and the woman named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Investigation of chief found no wrongdoing

The lawsuit alleges Secondiak told Worden the employees planned to report the messages to the police commission and to city council unless the chief agreed to resign.

"Worden then notified the Medicine Hat Police Commission about the blackmail attempt and requested that they speak with Secondiak to get further particulars," reads the lawsuit.

The statement of claim also details what's described as a false complaint that was filed against Worden with the police commission.

In May, two months after the complaint was filed, a third party investigation found there was no wrongdoing on Worden's part after the complainant told the commission she did not file a harassment complaint.

'Destroyed' reputation

That same month, the lawsuit alleges one or more of the complainants went to journalists to "encourage reporting of news stories that would damage Worden's reputation in the community."

A week later, Worden announced his resignation, which was set to take effect on May 26.

Worden says he resigned "because he felt the situation had impacted his ability to lead MHPS."

The misconduct alleged in the lawsuit "has destroyed [Worden's] professional reputation" and he says he has not been able to work as a police officer since he resigned in May 2022.

Worden's lawsuit argues the City of Medicine Hat ought to have known the alleged conspirators were harassing Worden and did not take steps to mitigate the harm to his reputation.

The city failed to provide a safe work environment, according to the statement of claim.