A former member of the RCMP Musical Ride has launched a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the government and several members of the Ride. Staff Sergeant Caroline O'Farrell, who was one of the first women to be part of the Musical Ride, alleges that she was sexually assaulted, abused and discriminated against during her short time as part of the team. The statement of claim filed today contains shocking allegations of abuse and assault and a recurring theme of an Old Boys' Club.

The Musical Ride is one of the endearing images of the RCMP: officers on horseback performing intricate drills to music. Staff Sergeant Caroline O'Farrell outlines in the statement of claim that she had dreamed of being part of that team but explains how that dream became a nightmare. She alleges the abuse started when O'Farrell joined basic training with the musical ride in April of 1986. She was the only female officer on the course. She alleges she was subjected to repeated “s***-troughing” or “horse-troughing”  in the horse stables, where she was doused with water "dragged along face down by her arms through...dirt, shavings, manure and urine...all the while her colleagues (they) were laughing and videotaping the incident." 

The officer, now 52, alleges the abuse continued for months; that her "high brown boots were filled with manure", the straps on her horse's bridle were not buckled".  The lawsuit claims the RCMP's investigation "upheld the harassment complaint....and concluded there were over 100 incidents of harassment that had been substantiated." 

O'Farrell alleges she was transferred off the Musical Ride in July of 1987 -- she was told “for her own safety as her supervisors couldn’t guarantee her safety during the next leg of the Ride.”  None of these allegations has been proven in court.

 Canada's Attorney General is among those being sued along with 13 former colleagues of the musical ride, many of whom have since been promoted within the RCMP. 

“I don’t comment on specific cases as you know,” said Nicholson at a news conference on another matter.

The suit is claiming more than $8 million dollars in damages for battery, sexual assault and loss of income, international infliction of mental suffering, misfeasance in public office and breach of contract on behalf of O'Farrell, her ex-husband and two children.

These allegations are the latest to hit the already battered police force.

"Something has to happen,” says Francis Scarpaleggia, the Liberal Critic for Public Safety, “because these incidents whether they're from the 80's, 90's are making it difficult for the force to maintain the trust of the people that it's serving and that's a very serious problem.”

O'FArrell, who is still with the RCMP, is coming forward now her lawyer says after finally understanding what damage was done to her.  She wants the officers and the force held accountable.   O'Farrell wasn't talking to the media today; neither was the RCMP.  The RCMP Musical Ride, begins Thursday with Commissioner Bob Paulson's annual inspection at the RCMP Stables in Ottawa’s north end.