Tuesday, April 11, 2000 10:46 AM

Appeal court rules in cop's favour

HALIFAX, N.S. — The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has ruled that an undercover police officer did not commit fraud or sexually assault an under-age prostitute.

The young woman had appealed her prostitution conviction on the grounds that the police officer violated her rights. She was hoping the Court of Appeal would hear her claims that the arresting officer touched her genitals to prove to her he wasn't a cop.

The woman says the officer misrepresented himself to get her consent to his touching and that she says amounts to sexual assault, but the court disagreed and ruled the officer did not commit fraud.

Jim Gumpert is the senior crown attorney who prosecuted the case. "It basically means that their hands would not be tied in carrying out undercover work," he said. "Now, mind you, of course, they are controlled by limits, by the charter of rights."

But a support group for prostitutes says this decision gives undercover police officers the right to sexually assault street workers. Janet Stevenson is a board member for Stepping Stone and she says the group is "terribly disappointed" with the court's decision.

"It will further endanger people engaged in street prostitution," Stevenson said. "What the decision is saying is that the police can conduct themselves in any way they see fit in order to arrest people."

Stevenson says prostitutes use a variety of methods to screen out police and potentially dangerous clients and this ruling will only limit their ability to protect themselves.

There's no word yet on whether the woman will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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Created: December 6, 2000
Last modified: January 15, 2001
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