Tuesday, September 23, 1997

Phinjo Gombu

Officer linked rapes before attack on Doe

Few details released for fear suspect would flee, court told

The lead investigator of the so-called "balcony rapist" case officially made the link between four attacks on women by the serial rapist just three weeks after he began his investigation, court has been told.

As well, former Metro police Detective Sergeant Bill Cameron defended the rationale behind not giving too many details about rapists to the public on the grounds that it could cause the person to flee the area and attack elsewhere.

Cameron, who retired from the force last year, was testifying for the defence in the $1.2 million lawsuit brought against the Metro force by a rape victim known only as Jane Doe.

Cameron said he became involved in the investigation on July 25, 1986, after the rape of a woman who was later found to be the fourth victim of Paul Douglas Callow -- now serving a 20 year sentence in jail after pleading guilty to five rapes.

That was about one month before Doe was raped.

The first rape occurred eight months earlier on Dec. 31, 1985, the second rape on Jan. 10, 1986, the third on June 25, and the fourth was the one Cameron investigated.

Doe's lawyer, Sean Dewart, has alleged through expert testimony that discriminatory attitudes toward the first two rape victims -- not considered "chaste" -- hindered the police from seeing a pattern.

Doe's lawsuit alleges, among other things, that police were negligent in not warning her about a serial rapist who had assaulted four women in her downtown neighbourhood of Church and Wellesley Sts. during 1986. She says systemic, gender-based discrimination within the force contributed to that decision.

Link made

When asked by police lawyer Bryan Finlay if Aug. 16, 1986 -- a week before Doe's rape -- was when he made the link, Cameron said: "Yes, we came to the conclusion we were most likely dealing with the same suspect."

He said the link had actually begun to emerge several weeks earlier when he was told by a fellow officer about similar attacks on Gloucester St.

The connection was reinforced in early August after he spoke to the first victim. "Her description matched what happened to (the other three victims)," Cameron said.

It was then that he and fellow investigator Detective Sergeant Kim Derry became convinced they were dealing with the same person.

Cameron acknowledged that he and other detectives in the division where the rapes occurred had one of the busiest caseloads in the city.

That led to a situation in which he was working simultaneously on the routine processing of prisoners, spending about 100 days a year in court and handling 50 to 60 cases. "We had to work around it," Cameron said.

But he testified that he and Derry constantly had the rape investigation in mind, patrolled the area regularly and examined 2,500 occurrences as part of an attempt to identify other victims and a pattern.

As well, he said, uniformed officers stepped up patrols in the area where the attacks had occurred and identification teams were constantly going through the process of matching fingerprints with known suspects and those arrested.

Few details

Cameron, who began by saying the balcony rapist investigation was a success, said he believed releasing too many details about the investigation was harmful.

"As an investigator, you don't want to give details of the offence for the public consumption that could come back to haunt you," he said, describing how police investigations are often plagued by false confessions.

He also said he was mindful of the fact that fellow investigators had told him another rapist attacking women in the Yonge and Bloor Sts. area at the same time had fled to Vancouver because of press coverage and had raped there.

"I didn't want to create the same situation with this investigation," Cameron said. "We wanted to keep it low-key." The trial continues.

"Balcony Rapist" case... [Fiona Stewart]

Created: March 6, 1999
Last modified: March 8, 1999

J.D. Jane Doe, c/o Walnet Institute
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710