Sexual Harassment

My fears? I have some, but not many. I’m not frightened of death, having made myfeature-img3 peace with that some time ago. I don’t like Clowns, but again I understand that not every painted jester is a serial killer (although most are definitely distrustful). My own lack of self-control and anger issues tied into events that happened over a decade ago. That worries me. My main dread however, my wife and daughters. Something evil happening to them. Some random guy who decides, that for a brief five minutes, their bodies are not theirs to do with what they will. That they don’t have the right to say “No!” That terrifies me.

In 2006, whilst working undercover, I was the victim of an attempted murder. Four men had been sent to dispatch me, and armed with knives they set about their task. I’d probably been fighting for my life for about 12 minutes at the point when I saw a colleague from my police cover-team drifting by in a grey truck. I felt relief, the cover-team being armed and trained to protect undercover operators in danger. He would jump out, pull his firearm, I would kneel and show compliance and my assailants would scatter, at least in theory. He didn’t. He didn’t stop! He just kept on driving, leaving me to struggle my way out. It would also emerge he had never been trained to do the job to which he was assigned.

Some months later at an Ontario Provincial Police (O.P.P) team building exercise, after cross words I would have to be dragged away from this same officer by five other cops. Looking back, clearly suffering the effects of PTSD. A meeting would subsequently be held with my handler who I would tell “I couldn’t stand this officer!” “Nobody can! That’s why he got move to the Gaming Unit.” came the response. Then, in an unsolicited and nonchalant manner “He was investigated for sexual assault at work. Got hold of naked pictures of another officer and forced her to have sex with him.” “But…but that’s rape?” came my shocked response. The Sergeant looked with confusion, “No, she consented.”

I don’t know what made me more aghast. The fact this constable at the time only had one job, to have my back and he failed. Or an alleged sexual assaulter was part of the team meant to protect me, and he is still a police officer. Or the fact a seasoned Detective had the opinion that if you agreed ‘under duress’ to sexual intercourse, the same is consensual. How far would a police officer have to go before it became a ‘crime’ and ‘non-consensual’? A gun to the head perhaps?

The reason I bring this up so many years later? On April 26th 2017 it is alleged the same officer, now promoted to Sergeant, arranged an on-duty ‘liaison’ with another officer in one of the bunk rooms at Central Police Station. He entered the room; undressed and climbed in the cot she was lying in. Only problem, his ‘girlfriend’ had been dispatched away for another call and he got into bed with a sleeping probationary officer. She quite rightly, wanted to press charges of sexual assault, as most reasonable people do when a naked stranger gets in bed with you whilst you slumber. This forced the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) to invoke their mandate.

Some evaluating this may well think ‘he just made a mistake’ and if that came to mind then you may well be part of the systemic problem not only in the policing workplace, but in most workplaces. I can’t believe in 2017, some 17 years after I worked as a Detective Sergeant in Special Victims, I find myself typing this but ‘YOU’ have a duty of care to ascertain who you’re rubbing your erect penis against. Also, you would be ignoring the glaring fact that he is an ‘on-duty’ police supervisor.

Last month the SIU released their findings into their criminal investigation. As seems par for the course with that organization recently they found that officer’s comportment did not constitute a criminal offence and therefore no charges will be pending.

That female officer, or any female for that matter, has every right to go into any workplace without fear of being harassed or assaulted, and that assumption for her has now been unlawfully removed. She’s at the start of an incredibly long and stressful career. She now has to spend that 30 plus years in the same workplace as the man who took off his clothes and climbed into bed with her, without her permission. I would imagine her relationship with Hamilton Police Service (HPS) will start to become tart and acidic soon, and when HPS note the same they will enter into a set sequence of actions to make an atmosphere of fear and intimidation around her common place, until she resolves it’s time to depart.

You could write an entire novella about the HPS Sergeant who had 11 female Police subordinates and 1 civilian member of staff enter numerous complaints about his repulsive conduct over an extended period of time. His actions included, but were not limited to verbalization of sexual acts, simulating oral sex and even sexual assault when he is alleged to have ‘grabbed an officer by the crotch’ at a work party.   His castigation? Was he charged and incarcerated for the alleged sexual assault? Did he lose his job for his sexually aggravated comments? Was he at least demoted ensuring in the future he wouldn’t weld authority over others for his own sexual indulgence? Actually, he received no punishment whatsoever, his ‘complaint’ being filed by the Chief of Police 3 days late, in my opinion a deliberate and premeditated misfeasance.

Currently, I find myself probing the veracity behind an allegation a Police Superintendent from a municipal service in Ontario sexually assaulted a female member of his own Police Service Board. If true, and I have three verified sources now telling me it is, it would mean a Police Officer sexually assaulted his Chief’s boss, but also makes a mockery of the oversight that position is supposed to hold.

Furthermore, and perhaps more ominously, two of those three sources confirmed the same female raised the issue ‘in-camera’ during a PSB meeting. She was then counselled by both the Mayor and the Chief of Police that because of the forum she raised her allegation she may be subject to consequences if she raises it elsewhere. If by some slim chance she’s reading this, the Criminal Code of Canada takes precedence over the PSA. If they refuse to file contact me, and not only will I lay charges against your assailant, but if the facts in issue substantiate I will also charge the Chief and Mayor of that Municipality for ‘Obstruction of Justice’.

In 2014 I filed a lawsuit relating to matters which are not relevant to this story, however shortly after filing I found myself subject to two separate warrants, on the second of which I was arrested. When HPS handcuffed me in front of my children then went public with my ‘arrest’, they gave me a voice. Their behaviour was now so blatantly corrupt; there was no lower they could take me. I had nothing further to fear. I was actually looking up at the depths of hell.

I began to speak out about Police misbehaviour and wrongdoing, and even though I had been speaking to the media since 2008, I know longer had to cower behind a veil of anonymity. This caused me to be a conduit for others who had been wronged. Even as a seasoned Detective, with well over 20 years’ service, I was shocked at the number of female police officers contacting me asking for advice about not only sexual harassment by colleagues, but sexual ‘assaults’ in their place of work. The consensus amongst them 80% of the time was standard. They refused or wavered from coming forward because they feared being browbeaten out of the service by Senior Management Teams (SMT). A wretched state of affairs when our protectors are frightened to chronicle personal assaults because of fear of retaliation.

The number of sexually harassed or assaulted Police Officers contacting me left me dumbfounded, but it’s now clear to me my guidance at first was bad. I would persuade them they needed to report it immediately to supervisors and insist criminal charges be laid. It became apparent though that Senior Management Teams did not consider them ‘victims’ and would do everything they could to negate public relations damage, protecting the service from possible litigation and not addressing the issue. (Note: recent events, especially in Hollywood, have made it clear this is a behavioural pattern for most organizations, not just law enforcement)

Even if victims do proceed with charges, the procedure of sexual assault investigation as it presently stands, is nothing more than a re-victimization. The forensic swabs. The statement under oath. Interviewing those close to you, which you confided in. The case is run by a Crown Prosecutor or DA who would rather dismiss charges than risk having a loss on his/ her record. You are also going to have to take the stand and re-experience your trauma as you are repetitively questioned by a defence council whose job it is to exonerate their client at any cost, in a system where your assailant can designate not to speak. Your case also has to be proven ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’, which effectively means no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts other that the guilt of your assailant. This is a high bar to meet if the offender admits sex, and offers a defence of consent meaning it’s the victim’s word against his.

I’ve changed what I now tell victims and for those I’ve given poor advice to in the past I apologize. This advice fits any sexual assault, not just the workplace, and no matter how small the incident. Firstly, documented the occurrence or share with a trusted friend or relative. Even if you’re not going to report the wrongdoing itself, you are going to need support. However, six months down the line you may change your mind about reporting, and need to do the same for cathartic or self-healing reasons. (Note: Back in the 90’s I dealt with a historic sex assault, where the victim had been raped some ten years prior. The day she was assaulted she had penned in her diary, “SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED TODAY!” A jury drew inferences; and that one comment was deemed in their mind the same as writing “Today, I was raped!”)

Rather than report the offence criminally, you need to give serious consideration to litigating civilly. No forensics required, but helpful in proving contact. You write your own affidavit, in your own time with the assistance of your lawyer and those you confided in can do the same. This case is run by a lawyer, who works for you, meaning you decide when it ends. You’re still going to have to take the stand and re-live the incident, but so does your aggressor. You only have to prove your case on a ‘balance of probabilities’, meaning you only need to prove your version of events is more probable than his. And there may be punitive damages at the end, which I understand is not the same as the offender going to jail, but is still a form of punishment and may assist you somewhat in moving forward.

In North America, over the past 20 years, 17,700,000 men and women have reported a sexual assault. It would appear with the #metoo movement women, and albeit a smaller percentage of men are finding their voices and coming forward. Even Time Magazine recognized the ‘Silence Breakers’ as their person(s) of the year including, but not limited to Rose McGowan, Terry Crews, Ashley Judd and others. The bravery these people are showing discussing such personal and traumatic event on such a public forum is astounding and from a purely selfish perspective I’m hoping their courageousness has made this world safer for my girls. I’m now not as fearful for their future, but I’ll always be there to keep an eye on them.


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