Tuesday, July 7, 1998

Phinjo Gombu

p. B1.

Jane Doe merits apology, force told

Police board member speaks out, but chair remains cautious

The vice-chair of the Toronto police services board says Jane Doe deserves a public apology for the way the force handled the "balcony rapist" investigation.

"At the minimum, an apology is due (from the police and the board)" Councillor Judy Sgro (North York Humber) said yesterday. "An apology seems very little after 12 years."

Jane Doe, who has not revealed her real name, last week won a lengthy court battle against the force, 12 years after she became a victim of the serial rapist in the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood.

Madam Justice Jean MacFarland of the Ontario court, general division, ruled Friday that the Toronto force was "utterly negligent" in the way it handled the probe. She condemned police for failing to warn the women about the rapist they had already identified. Instead, police used women as bait to catch him, she said.

MacFarland found that the force had violated Doe's charter rights because of its sexist view of women, and also ordered it to pay Doe $220,000 in damages and $20,000 annually for the next 15 years.

A police spokesperson has said the force will take a week to consider whether it will appeal the decision. Sgro said she did not think an appeal was appropriate. but getting an apology from the police board and the force might be difficult, because there is still the question of liability, said police board chair and fellow Councillor Norm Gardner (North York Centre).

It isn't within the power of the police services board to decide whether the force will appeal the decision, Gardner said. "That is up to the insurance company that handles the affair," he said, without naming the company. "There's a liability issue and the decision is out of our hands."

Police urged to apologize to victim

asked whether he thought police should appeal the decision or issue an apology, Gardner was cautious. It would be presumptuous of me at this moment to make a statement in this regard. I don't want to put the board in jeopardy by saying by saying anything that might lead to some liability on behalf of the board."

Gardner did express concern that the ruling might open up the Toronto police force to more lawsuits. "It may open up a Pandora's box on serving charges against the police for the omission rather than the commission of doing something negative," he said.

Courage Saluted

Sgro, however, said she would demand a report on the case from Toronto police Chief David Boothby.

She said the Doe case cries out for public acknowledgment and she saluted Doe's courage in taking the battle to court.

Sgro said police attitudes toward sexual assault victims must be seen to have changed, as do police attitudes toward other issues today, such as high-speed car chases.

Albert Cohen, a solicitor with the city's legal department, said several insurance companies have handled the Doe case since it began, and he wasn't sure which company is handling the case today.

"It will be the insurers which will make the decision based on outside counsel whether there is any substantive grounds for seeking an appeal," Cohen explained.

He said the city's legal services department is in the process of preparing a report on the case for the police services board and the Toronto police force.

"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