Centre Wellington woman sentenced for ‘shocking’ obstruction of justice

Brenda Dolderman repeatedly contacted OPP officers who accused her husband of sexual assault

GUELPH – The wife of a Wellington OPP officer, described as a dedicated mother and community volunteer, was sentenced in Guelph court on Feb. 23 to house arrest and probation following a guilty plea last year.

Charged with obstruction of justice, 55-year-old Centre Wellington resident Brenda Dolderman appeared before court Thursday, as defence and crown lawyers made final submissions to Justice Dominique Kennedy. All appeared virtually.

The case focused on Dolderman’s attempts to help her husband, Michael Dolderman, at the time a 21-year member of Wellington OPP, during an investigation by the OPP’s Professional Standards Bureau into sexual assault allegations made against him by fellow OPP officers.

Charges stemming from those allegations are outstanding before the court and remain unproven.

As the investigation evolved in early 2020, a Wellington OPP officer and friend of Dolderman’s husband recorded colleagues’ conversations at the Rockwood OPP detachment.

Recordings are sealed and it’s unknown what was said by the officers, but on Thursday, Kennedy outlined facts of the case and said private conversations, including one of the complainants who made allegations against Dolderman’s husband, was captured.

The recordings were delivered by her husband’s friend and colleague to Dolderman, who paid to have them transcribed online.

In February of 2020, Dolderman activated 18 phone numbers and created seven email accounts, using them to message the personal numbers of officers who made allegations against her husband.

In those messages, she quoted from the recordings, threatening to disclose their contents.

According to court documents, the OPP launched a criminal investigation the same month, focused on identifying who sent the messages.

In her remarks, Justice Kennedy said Dolderman also messaged officers interviewed during the investigation, as well as the spouse of a complainant.

“Ms. Dolderman made direct and indirect threats in the belief that some of the recipients had been colluding in their evidence against her husband,” Kennedy said.

Some messages were signed with aliases, such as “Survivors of False Allegations Support Program” — behaviour Dolderman’s defence lawyer Alison Craig described as out-of-character and a response of “sheer panic.”

“More than anything that Ms. Dolderman wants me to get across … all she wanted was for the officers to follow their oaths and tell the truth,” Craig told the court.

A suspicious envelope

But Dolderman didn’t stop there.

“On Feb. 11, 2020, in a ruse to introduce what she believed to be incriminating evidence to the police,” Kennedy said, Dolderman went to the Aboyne OPP detachment, presenting an envelope she claimed was placed in her mailbox overnight.

The envelope contained a letter purporting to be from an “organization dedicated to truth and justice” and contained URLs to the recording transcripts, as well as 80 pages of transcripts.

A letter was signed “Your friends at Vigilante Justice.”

Craig told the court Dolderman thought she was doing the right thing, but “regrets the methods she used.”

Dolderman also addressed a card to one of the complainants that referenced God, suggesting the officer needed redemption.

The card was signed, “Brenda.”

Seven letters were also sent by Dolderman to the Rockwood OPP detachment between March and April 2020, Kennedy said.

“The plural person” was used by Dolderman to imply the letters were sent from an organization, Kennedy said.

Kennedy read an excerpt: “Our organization could have chosen to pursue justice in many different ways. We had the ability to threaten and blackmail certain individuals with this damaging information, but we elected to maintain our integrity.

“We hold information that could seriously hurt many people and embarrass the OPP.”

Craig told the court the “theme and motivation” of the letters was to prod the OPP into investigating “everything that occurred,” including “the fact that the officers … had been talking about the investigation when they weren’t supposed to be.”

Finally, Dolderman “attempted to hide evidence of her communication with the complainants and witnesses involved in her husband’s case” while a search warrant was executed in April, Kennedy recounted.

“Police located many copies of materials connecting Ms. Dolderman to the communications with the Rockwood OPP, and written materials consistent with that sent to complainants via email and text messages.”

Judge weighs stronger sentence

Sentencing was deferred until this week as Kennedy considered a stricter judgement than a suspended sentence (conviction with a probation order) suggested by crown attorney Jason Nicol last December.

“Particularly in light of the guilty plea, particularly in light of her unblemished record … perhaps a pumped-up suspended sentence might be a route to go,” Nicol suggested Thursday.

However, a conditional discharge (probation without a conviction) sought by Dolderman’s defence lawyer, “is wholly inadequate,” Nicol opined, adding, “it’s not even in the ballpark in this particular case.”

Craig said a conditional discharge was sought “because of [Dolderman’s] extraordinary devotion to her community and volunteer efforts” and noted Dolderman had no criminal record.

Justice Kennedy ultimately took a different view in handing down Dolderman’s sentence.

“I have carefully considered the position of counsel and the mitigating circumstances of this case,” she said, disagreeing with Nicol’s suggestion.

“I do not agree that a suspended sentence sends the right message to the community and sufficiently condemns Ms. Dolderman’s conduct,” Kennedy asserted, calling Dolderman’s actions “shocking” and “serious.”

“She is guilty of willfully attempting to obstruct, pervert, or defeat the course of justice,” Kennedy said.

Described in letters of support as a church-going woman, loyal friend and a protective mother, Dolderman broke down and sobbed from behind a computer screen, lowering her head out of frame.

Dolderman’s attempts “went on for months” in a “concerted and prolonged effort,” Kennedy said, adding she misled police and was “entirely responsible for her actions.”

“I have concluded that a jail sentence served in the community as a conditional sentence order is the appropriate disposition,” Kennedy said.

She admitted the judgement was lenient, considering prison sentences are typically called for in obstruction and interference crimes.

As conditions of the sentence, Dolderman must remain at her residence and property for three months, with a portion under curfew and exceptions for shopping and medical trips, attending church, and volunteering.

After three months, she is on probation for one year with no contact orders involving several people whose names were not listed in court.

A court-ordered publication ban also prohibits the Advertiser from identifying witnesses.

Dolderman must participate in counselling and perform 100 hours of community service work.

Additional charges against Dolderman, including obstructing police, extortion, and intimidation of a justice system participant, were withdrawn by the crown.

In an email to the Advertiser, Dolderman explained she became concerned officers were contaminating the investigation into her husband after hearing the recordings provided to her, and she considers the officer who provided them to be a “whistleblower.”

“I pleaded guilty to the methods and ways I chose to convey that message to the investigators, witnesses, and complainants,” Dolderman stated.

“I would never choose those methods again.”

Dolderman wrote she is “truly sorry for the hurt and embarrassment” caused.

Dolderman’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Nicol declined in an email to provide comment for this story.