January 30-February 5, 1992

Glenn Cooly

p. 10.

Sexual Theft: Jane Doe's Story

Defying Metro police sergeant's forceful favours has cost her more than she ever imagined

Jane Doe is the kind of person who would blend in well at a grad-student-get-together, not at all the sort who would be involved in a scandal that would rock the city.

The story of how Jane Doe was sexually assaulted by a Metro police sergeant dissuaded from pressing criminal charges against him, then forced to go into hiding has stunned observers at the Junger inquiry into the force's internal affairs unit.

But it's all the more stunning because of the fact that Jane Doe is a well connected woman with ties to a half-dozen or so social organization -- not the street prostitute she's been portrayed by the police and news media.

With the inquiry poised to receive final submissions, Doe has broken a longstanding silence and given her first interview since her story broke early last year. Her motive -- to provide an assessment of the emotional costs of going through both the police complaint system and the inquiry, an assessment that's troublesome news for people who believe safeguards against police abuse of power are, and should be, firmly in place.

"If a woman came to me in (a similar) circumstance involving a police officer, what would I say to her? I would say, do not report it. You have to look for alternatives. The victimization will only continue, and you have to get on with your life.

"The real bottom line is that believing that the pain you will suffer is for some sort of collective cause is nonsense."

Fateful night

Doe readily acknowledges that she was attempting to exchange sex for money on that night in November 1989 that she first encountered sergeant Brian Whitehead. But if she doesn't emphatically refute the label of prostitute, that's to avoid sounding condescending towards women who do make their living full-time on the street.

She is unwilling -- or perhaps unable to explain why she left her upscale apartment to go turn a trick on Queen Street. She does say, however, and with a note of terseness in her voice, that by questioning her behavior one is guilty of overlooking Whitehead's.

"I hate to be tactless, or uncooperative, but aren't my motives irrelevant? If a woman wants to go out and prostitute herself, do her reasons matter? For me, it was something that I don't do for a living, and I am not going to sit and judge why other women do it."

Whitehead, out cruising in his silver Chevy Malibu that night, has never said what promoted him to stop and pick up Doe. After motioning her into his car and hearing her proposition, Whitehead flashed his police badge and indicated to Doe that he would arrest her unless she did what he told her.

In a statement Doe provided for Whitehead's eventual hearing before an internal police tribunal, she says the officer drove to a parking lot in High Park and began alternately kissing her and sipping rum and coke out of a coffee cup.

After 15 minutes or so, Whitehead told Doe that he wanted to go to her place. Once there, he began to sexually assault her. Though she complied, Doe says, "There was no consent whatsoever."

Before parting, Whitehead wrote down Doe's phone number. He told me he would be calling me," her statement says, "and not to leave my answering machine on because he hated them," Whitehead wasted no time fulfilling his promise.

"He made phone calls continually," Doe says, "especially in the middle of the night, which seemed to be his favourite time. I lived in terror, because he knew where I lived."

"I was afraid that he was going to come back and do something to me, and I had every reason to be fearful. At any time of the day or night. I never knew whether he was going to knock on my door."

Despite, or because of, her fear of Whitehead, Doe went along with her lawyer's suggestion that she meet with officers from Metro police's internal affairs unit a couple of days after she first encountered the sergeant. In what has been called a good investigation -- one that started with little information about Whitehead -- internal affairs was able to identify him and capture him within two and a half weeks.

After a promising beginning, however, things began immediately going wrong for Doe. She insists that it was her intention right from the start to carry through with criminal charges against Whitehead and testify against him in court.

Secret agreement

Instead, internal affairs charged him with corruption and deceit under the police act. Rather than face a trial judge, Whitehead was brought before an internal police tribunal.

Testimony at the Junger inquiry indicates that up to three month before the tribunal hearing took place, the prosecutor and Whitehead's lawyer had reached an agreement that his penalty should be a forfeiture of days off. Though the judge dissented and demoted Whitehead to the rank of constable, he was allowed to remain on the force. Doe says she undertook her complaint with the intend of getting Whitehead fired.

Her disappointment turned to fear, however, after the media got hold of her story several month later. Faced with the growing clamour from the reporters wanting copies of the transcript from Whitehead's hearing, senior police officers came within two days of making it available within first deleting Doe's real name and address.

"When it looked like (they were) going to release my name, I thought there would be no life left for me," she says. "The only time that I considered taking my own life was at that particular time."

But even if she felt burned by what she considers a dangerously close call, Doe stepped forward and agreed to provide testimony in private at the Junger inquiry in August 1991.

Her decision instantly got her into trouble. Prior to giving testimony, she was physically assaulted outside her home by someone unknown to her, but someone she is certain knew the details of the case.

Constant scrutiny

Doe's lawyer at the inquiry immediately began making arrangements with the ministry of the attorney general to provide for her safety. Rather than opt for the ministry's witness protection program -- which uses police officers as watchers -- the choice was made to hire a private security firm. Doe suddenly found herself in the same circumstances as witnesses preparing to testify against mobsters and bike gangs.

Question: Has it been easy for you to come forward to give evidence? Jane Doe: No. Question: Why have you done so? JD: Because if I hadn't, I wouldn't be able to live with myself ethically. Question: Ethically? JD: Yes . . . I knew that if people didn't speak up against what was happening, that things would never change.

Jane Doe testifying at the Junger inquiry in 1991

For two months, she lived in a hotel and then in an unfamiliar apartment under constant scrutiny. Doe speaks highly about the individuals who watched over her, but describes what amounts to an exile as one of the worst periods of her life.

"It's the thing I am having the most difficult time coming to terms with, living away from my home and my friends, and being cut off from them. It was for my own protection, but emotionally it was devastating."

"As far as I'm concerned, without being belligerent, no one knows what grief is until they live in a world of isolation where they're not allowed to tell their friends where they're living, where they're not allowed to give out their phone number, when they go to work and have to go to a meeting, a security person takes them to that meeting."

"As much as I think that social reforms are important, I don't think the way to do them is through public inquiries. People shouldn't be used for causes. You never recover from something like this. Your life goes on, you pick up the pieces, but the reality is that you're scarred forever."

Though Doe is bitter about her experience, she is quick to point out that for a woman who does make her living full-time on the street, things probably would have been worse. Were it not for her blue-chip resume and boardroom savvy, in other words, Doe wouldn't have gotten as close as she did to making Whitehead pay a price for his actions.

"A prostitute in the position that I was in wouldn't be connected to the system that I was. I have friends all over the legal community. "(My involvement at the inquiry) hurt my family very much, but personally, I'm more frustrated with the fact that your everyday woman working on the street is so vulnerable. There's no way a woman working full-time on the street could ring up (a high-powered lawyer) and say, 'Hi there, can you help me?" They lack that kind of access."

Prostitute label

But conversely, because she was labeled a prostitute, Doe believes her case against Whitehead wasn't taken as seriously as it would otherwise have been. "Society doesn't care much about prostitutes.

"Had Brian Whitehead picked me up in a bar, and it had all come out that way, how do you think the media -- and society in general -- would have treated it? There would have been a tremendous amount of disdain and scorn. What happened to me was a sexual assault. It shouldn't matter under what conditions."

Doe acknowledges that her comments about the inquiry and the police complaint system are a drop-kick at the belief that silence is tantamount to surrender, a belief she herself has expressed in the past.

"I know this from walking in my own shoes, saying you have to fight back, you might not win in this system but you have to do something to change it. But when you removed from that situation and become the one who is the victim/complainant, the world changes.

"If I hadn't come forward, I would have spent the rest of my life wondering (whether I should have). But my prediction is that the inquiry won't do anything dramatic, and I will never be the woman that I could have been."

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Created: December 11, 1998
Last modified: December 11, 1998

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