While investigating allegations of a fake psychologist, police charge a real one

Investigators have made an arrest in the unusual case of a fake psychologist who was working with the Ottawa police. But in a twist, investigators say the culprit isn’t an imposter — but the actual therapist. 

Const. Kimberly Cadarette told CBC News in June she believed that the psychologist who had assessed whether she was fit for duty, in a series of face-to-face sessions 14 years earlier, was an imposter.

Cadarette says she was taken off patrol and ordered to see a therapist after complaining about sexual harassment. She says the details of the resulting assessment, which she believes was fraudulent, leaked out and ruined her potential for career advancement.

The assessment bore the letterhead and signature of Dr. Ronald Frey, a clinical psychologist with two decades of experience working with municipal police forces, the RCMP and the Canadian Forces.

In 2020, Cadarette considered legal action against the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) for the historical complaint. But during a Zoom meeting with her legal team, Frey denied writing Cadarette’s fit-for-duty report.

CBC News later brought them face to face and, in an extraordinary encounter, both declared they had never met before.

WATCH | Frey, Cadarette come face to face: 

Psychologist and former Ottawa police officer meet for the first time

4 months ago

Const. Kimberly Cadarette and Ron Frey both say they’ve never met each other, despite a psychological report that says Frey treated Cadarette in 2007. 1:13

OPS asked an outside force, York Regional Police (YRP), to investigate Frey’s allegations he’d been impersonated.

On Monday, in an unexpected turn of events, York investigators arrested Frey at his clinic in south Ottawa and charged him with one count of public mischief.

A YRP spokesperson said, in a statement to CBC News, Frey had “twice reported to the Ottawa Police Service that he had been impersonated when he had not.” 

Asked how they determined Frey’s statements were false, they declined to answer, saying: “This forms the evidence for the case and cannot be disclosed as it is now before the courts.” 

‘It’s a complete puzzle’

Frey’s lawyer, Bruce Engel, says his client has yet to receive any information from the police or the Crown attorney’s office, but that his client intends to vigorously defend against the allegation.

“My client has instructed me to vehemently deny all the allegations and vigorously defend him in court. He insists that he has done absolutely nothing wrong,” said Engel.

The arrest has also left Cadarette’s lawyer, Peter Brauti, flummoxed.

“It’s a complete puzzle for me and I just wish there was more transparency in all of this, because at this point we don’t know why Dr. Frey has been arrested,” he said. 

Brauti says York police told his client that investigators had found information showing Frey had had some contact with Cadarette, contrary to their claim of having not previously met. He doesn’t know what evidence investigators have but it’s left him with even more questions.

“I don’t see what the motive would be for [Frey] to be dishonest about any of this.”

For three days, four officers in two vehicles waited to arrest Frey outside his clinic at 1800 Bank St. in Ottawa. Frey didn’t go into work last Thursday or Friday, but on Monday, he arrived shortly after 9 a.m. 

Frey, 53, has been practising for more than two decades. Much of his work involves conducting mental health assessments for law enforcement agencies. (CBC)

The officers were joined by two others and, at 2:18 p.m., Frey was escorted out of his office and handcuffed just before being put into a police SUV. York police took him to OPS headquarters to interrogate him and, after several hours in custody, Frey was charged with public mischief and released with a promise to appear in court in December.

The charge was laid after a four-month investigation. Around 15 people were interviewed, among them former Ottawa police chief Vern White, now a senator. One other Ottawa officer who also claims he was assessed by a Frey imposter told CBC he had also been interviewed by York investigators. 

York police allege Frey falsely reported having been impersonated “by someone acting as a psychologist while treating a patient” between Sept. 21, 2007 and Oct. 25, 2007. 

Those dates correspond to the dates of Cadarette’s weekly fit-for-duty sessions at a medical clinic at the University of Ottawa.

Frey previously told CBC News that after speaking with Cadarette and her lawyer on Zoom last year, he reported concerns about potential fraud to the head of the OPS mental wellness program in November 2020.

Following the broadcast of his CBC interview in June, Frey filed a second complaint to a provincial police watchdog, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD).

In that complaint, Frey alleged that he was impersonated in his professional capacity, possibly by an officer of the Ottawa Police Service and further alleged that OPS failed to investigate until the matter was raised in a media report.

WATCH | ‘Nothing’s changed for us,’ Brauti says:

Many questions remain, Cadarette’s lawyer says

Peter Brauti says he’s not clear how investigators concluded Dr. Ronald Frey, the psychologist who has denied writing an assessment of his client for the Ottawa police, was not impersonated. 0:54

Hundreds of clients

Frey, 53, has been a practising psychologist since 2000. According to his resume he has worked with dozens of public- and private-sector clients. Much of his work is with law enforcement agencies, from municipal police services to the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP.  He has also assessed workers at Public Safety Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Department of National Defence.  

Frey has conducted psychological evaluations of officers facing high-risk deployments. He assesses officers who suffer from traumatic stress on the job and evaluates whether they can return to work and carry a sidearm.

WATCH | The twists and turns of the case:

Twist, turns and therapy

4 hours ago

Police make a surprising arrest in the case of an alleged fake psychologist in Ottawa. 2:21

Because this is an ongoing investigation, Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly declined to comment. But in a memo to staff, sent after Frey was arrested, Sloly wrote:

“We realize the news of this arrest may have an effect on members who have either received treatment or been evaluated by him. Wellness supports are available for anyone impacted by these events.”

Cadarette says the charge of public mischief against Frey doesn’t change her mind. She insists he’s not the therapist who assessed her. (CBC News)

Cadarette declined to comment for this story, but her lawyer says York Regional Police have named her as a victim in its case against Frey. Investigators informed her of the public mischief charge five hours after Frey was arrested.  

In interviews with Cadarette’s lawyers and with CBC, Frey has repeatedly denied meeting her and writing the fit-for-duty report. 

“I want to be clear that I didn’t assess her,” said Frey in his television interview. He called the techniques outlined in the report “atypical … unethical,” and expressed concern that what happened to Cadarette was “probably criminal.”

Brauti says he’s concerned about what impact the surprising turn of events will have on his client. They considered Frey a supporter — now he’s been charged.

“If [Frey] wasn’t telling the truth, I mean, that traumatizes her even more. If he was telling the truth, he’s now been arrested and there is some further motive and potential conspiracy that’s going on. That can’t be good … no matter how this pans out.”

OPS referred calls for further comment to York investigators, who said they had conducted a “thorough investigation” and “laid the charge based on evidence that supports it.”

“There is no conspiracy,” YRP said. “If someone has a complaint or concern, they should file a report through the OIPRD (Office of the Independent Police Review Director), which can launch an independent investigation.”

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