Thursday, March 21, 1991

Sergeant demoted over forced sex

Chief William McCormack says he won't second-guess the police tribunal that demoted a veteran sergeant to the rank of constable for using his badge to pressure a woman into sex.

Calling the two-year-old affair a "horrible matter" the chief said that despite the fact it has only been reported in the media this week, there had been no attempt by police to hide the incident.

At a disciplinary hearing in May, 1990, Brian Whitehead of 21 Division was demoted to first-class constable for what the tribunal officer called "a totally despicable abuse of police power and authority."

The hearing heard that while Whitehead was off-duty in early 1989, he picked up a woman in an area of Parkdale frequented by prostitutes. Using his authority as a police officer, he had sex with her at her apartment.

"I have never had a case before me which depicts so vividly the abuse of power and position of a police officer," Superintendent Duncan Wilson said at Whitehead's sentencing. "The fact that it is committed by a sergeant only compounds the offence."

Wilson said Whitehead "identified himself as a police officer and I am satisfied that she allowed him to do what he did out of apprehension of being arrested. "It borders on a criminal assault."

McCormack said yesterday that no criminal charges were laid against the 23-year veteran of the force after police investigated the woman's allegations. Whitehead was charged with corrupt practice and deceit under the Police Act.

"If there is insufficient evidence criminally, quite often there is ample evidence under the Police Act," McCormack said. "This is in fact what occurred." When asked whether he thought the punishment fit the crime, the chief bristled. "That's a very, very unfair question," he said.

"I can't begin to second-guess that at this moment. That's a matter of individual opinion. "We as police officers quite often complain that matters before the courts are not dealt with severely enough," he said.

"But we, as police officers, also understand that each and every one of those matters have been adjudicated on the factors that have been brought before the trial justice or jurist. "That's the system of democracy."

Whitehead, who also underwent counselling and attended a clinic in Buffalo for alcohol dependency, now works in the force's traffic support service bureau.

McCormack said the demotion cost Whitehead about $7,000 a year in salary, which would also effect his benefits, pension and chances for promotion in the future. "Taking that into consideration, it's a substantial penalty," he said.

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Created: March 17, 1998
Last modified: March 17, 1998

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