Friday, July 3, 1998

p. B1.

Balcony rapist decision due

Jane Doe suit says police negligence led to 1986 rape

It was the summer of 1986. Art Eggleton was mayor of Toronto, Brian Mulroney was in his first term as prime minister and an underachieving Blue Jays team was being managed by Jim Williams.

It was also the summer when a Toronto woman, known only as Jane Doe, was attacked by a serial rapist in a downtown Toronto highrise apartment.

Madam Justice Jean MacFarland of Ontario Court, general division, today is to release a verdict in Doe's $1.2 million lawsuit against the Toronto police force. The suit, which was launched in August, 1997, contends that police were negligent in their search for the attacker, and that systemic sexism was the backdrop to the flawed probe.

Not long after the assault, about a hundred angry women gathered at a community centre in the Church and Wellesley Sts. neighborhood. They were angry because after the attack on Doe, detectives prevented her and others from putting up posters in the neighborhood warning the public that the so-called "balcony rapist" was at large.

He had previously attacked four other women. Police believed he gained entry into the apartments by climbing on to balconies. He would then grab a knife from the apartment and attack.

The women all were white, had dark hair, were shorter than 5-foot-5 and lived alone. Each lived in a first-second-or third-storey apartment.

The police were in the process of preparing an elaborate stakeout to catch the rapist. They believed posters would drive away their quarry.

The group of women countered that they had a right to publicize what was happening so women could take steps to protect themselves.

Police accused of sexism, inaction

Force maintains article in Star was a warning to women

Paul Douglas Callow, who was arrested after Doe was raped, pleaded guilty to all the attacks and is serving a 20-year jail sentence.

At least two key issues are expected to be addressed today's ruling. The first is whether Doe's rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated because of systemic sexism by the Toronto police force.

There is plenty at stake. Police forces in Canada have been sued successfully for negligence but those cases have generally involved something the force has done, rather than something they have not done.

Doe's lawsuit contends that police failed to guarantee he Charter rights to security because of what they had not done -- warn women about the serial rapist they knew was at large.

Investigations of the four attacks that occurred before the assault on Doe set the stage for her allegation that, from the beginning the probe was flawed by sexist assumptions.

the first woman was attacked on December 31, 1985, the second on Jan. 25 and the forth on July 25, a month before the attack on Doe.

Police documents showed the rapes weren't officially linked until after the fourth attack when Detective Sergeants Bill Cameron and Kim Derry got involved in late July.

Doe's lawyers Sean Dewart, Eric Golden and Cynthia Petersen, told court that the six-month delay was unacceptable.

Doe's case was based on her allegation that sexist assumptions fueled negligence, which in turn led to a sloppy probe.

For instance, she alleged, investigators in the first attack were more preoccupied with the victim's sexual aids in the bedroom than with how entry into the apartment had occurred.

In a letter to police, the woman complained that detectives believed it was her boyfriend who had raped her. Similarly, documents showed the second victim's investigation was derailed and deemed "fictitious" because she was too "calm."

The police said they used such "investigative techniques" to learn as much as possible about the victims' habits and lifestyles and that they weren't focusing unduly on it.

Detectives testified the third rape was unfortunately liked with another rapist at large, but Doe's side contended a police memo showed investigators eliminated him early on.

Police said a large number of sexual assaults that summer contributed to the difficulties in linking the rapes to Callow. Police lawyers Byran Finlay and Greg Richards argued that Cameron and Derry did a tremendous job under trying circumstances to link the attacks within a couple of weeks of getting involved.

Police said Doe was well-informed and aware a rapist was at large

The police force maintained officers worked on the case tirelessly despite a heavy workload, but Doe's lawyer focused on big gaps in Derry's and Cameron's notebooks to show a week before Doe was attacked.

As well they had claimed that investigators had linked the rapists a month earlier and had done nothing about it.

On the issue of warning the public, police lawyers argued that there had been plenty of news coverage about rapes in Toronto that summer.

They said Doe was a well-informed "urban adult" who had read the article and was aware a rapist was at large in her neighborhood.

They pointed to a five-paragraph July 29 newspaper article headlined "Sexual assaults up 40 per cent," as an example of a specific warning.

The last two paragraphs read: "The latest attack occurred on the weekend in an apartment on Isabella St. when a 33-year-old woman was wakened by an intruder. Her hands were tied and she was raped.

"Police have not been able to determine how the man got in. In previous attacks in the same area this year, the rapist has climbed balconies."

In closing submission, Finlay said: "The warning was in fact published in the Toronto Star on July 29. In this case, the police did release the appropriate information to the public."

But Doe's side condemned the police claim that that constituted a warning especially since then-police chief Jack Marks had said that no warning was issued when one should have been.

"The July 29 Toronto Star newspaper article is... not a specific warning about attacks in the very tiny Church-Wellesley area," Doe's lawyer told court. Doe's lawyers said police at times exercised a double standard.

they pointed to the case that same summer of the so-called Annex Rapist in which police issued a warning through the media of a rapist they feared might kill. The lawsuit also alleges that the women were used as bait.

After Doe was attacked, Cameron and Derry decided to stage a 10-day stakeout to catch the rapist. A police memo said officers were to canvass 21 highrise buildings in the area, noting the apartment numbers of women who fit the description of the rapist's victim. But officers were instructed not to tell residents what was happening.

In their closing submission, police lawyers Richards and Finlay said that if women had been warned, "there is every reason to believe, based on the evidence of experts and of experienced police officers," that Callow would have been "displaced" and might have gone on to rape other unsuspecting women in another area.

Doe lawyers say police planned to catch rapist 'after his next rape'

Doe's lawyers argued that the stakeout plan was put in place to catch the rapist "after his next rape as he fled from some women's apartment."

"The desire to catch the balcony rapist at any expense , including the rape of an unsuspecting woman who had been deliberately kept in the dark is... apparent," they said.

In closing submission, the police refuted allegations that the force was systemically sexist by pointing to a study, which involved women's groups, showed that 89 per cent of sexual victims believed they were treated with "a moderate amount" to "a great deal" of understanding by officers in the mid-1980s.

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

Created: February 14, 1999
Last modified: February 14, 1999

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