Friday, July 10, 1998

Phinjo Gombu

p. 1.

Jane Doe gets apology

Partial wording of Toronto council's motion

Be it resolved... ' That city council issue an apology to Jane Doe and the women of Toronto regarding the handling of this case; and that City Council requests the Police Services Board to also issue an apology.'

And be it further resolved that... 'City staff expeditiously settle all of the monetary issues arising from the Jane Doe decision.'

City also says sorry to all Toronto women

Jane Doe is getting the apology she has sought for 12 years, and the $220,000 a judge recently awarded her.

In an extraordinary session yesterday, Toronto City Council voted 51-1 not only to apologize to the woman who was used as bait by Toronto police to catch a serial rapist, but apologize to all women in Toronto as well.

It asked the police services board to apologize, too. Board chairman Norm Gardner said last night he believes it will do so.

"I think whenever a wrong has been done, the appropriate thing is to make an apology," the women known only as Jane Doe said last night, after being told that Gardner has agreed with council about the apology. "On a personal level, I've been naming this wrong for the past 12 years, and it has been validated by a court of law."

"An apology is appropriate and I would welcome one," she said. "It would be a beginning, but it remains to be seen what kind of action and commitment to change accompanies that apology."

Council also voted to settle the legal claims awarded by Madam Justice Jean MacFarland of Ontario Court, general division, as quickly as possible. there will be no appeal of the judge' decision.

MacFarland ordered Toronto police to pay $220,000, after finding that officers had violated Doe's Charter rights by failing to warn her about a rapist they knew was operating in the Church and Wellesley Sts. neighborhood.

Councillor Pam McConnell (Don River) describe Doe as a brace woman, who had the "incredible energy" to persist in her legal fight. "Today we have a chance to celebrate where we've moved in 12 years, and congratulate a woman whose name we don't know and whose identity we don't know," McConnell said. "A faceless leader as are most women in the city."

Councillor Olivia Chow (Downtown) who moved the motion for the apology and to not appeal, said it was "long overdue, been far too long."

Chow was the first of a series of female councillors who launched the debate by speaking passionately about the need to compensate Doe immediately and get on with the business of police reform.

"It's up to city council to decide whether we spend money and fight this, or issue an apology and get on with it," Chow said. "I tell you, there is a lot of human cost to drag this thing out."

Councils decision -- opposed only by Doug Holyday (Markland-Centennial) -- means there won't be any appeal of the Doe verdict by the Toronto police force, because the funds for the legal battle come from a reserve fund headed by the city solicitor and the treasurer, who answer to council.

Doe gets apology

Holyday said he would have preferred a report the city solicitor outlining the possible consequences. "The liability to the taxpayer could be enormous. We don't know," he said.

Gardner also gave the assurance that the police services board will not appeal the judgement. "I think the police board will adhere to the request of the council," Gardner said. "I think we'll probably be making an apology. I just have to run this thing through my board members when I see them next Thursday."

Councillors such as Blake Kinahan (Lakeshore Queensway), Frank Faubert (Scarborough Highland Creek) and Raymond Cho (Scarborough Malvern) initially expressed concern about the legal and financial implications for the city.

But as the debate wore on -- and more and more people spoke -- the sentiment changed and a motion to defer any decision until a report from the city solicitor was received was overwhelmingly defeated 37-3.

Councillor Sandra Bussin (East Toronto) said "51 per cent of the population of the City of Toronto are women and it is important for our council to recognize that in fact it took 12 years for the ruling to come forward.

"There is an old phrase that says justice delayed is justice denied. In this case, it took far too long to come to the conclusions that are before us," Bussin said.

Dionne example

She gave the example of how the province had apologized to the Dionne quintuplets for the treatment they'd received decades ago as an example of what council should do.

Toronto police Chief David Boothby was at the meeting to speak to councillors about the case. Rather then speaking directly about an apology or possible appeal, Boothby instead spoke at length about the improvements the police force has made over the years.

The force, he said, was a leader in the province and in the country and had been doing a lot to improve with regard to issues of violence against women, an assertion challenged by Chow and Councillor Jack Layton.

Boothby however, welcomed an audit proposed by council into how the force handles sexual assault investigations, saying he would like the chance to prove his force was on the cutting edge, not just on paper but in practice. But at the end of his speech, the chief clashed with some members of council.

Councillor Howard Moscoe (North York Spadina) asked if a motion by council urging the chief and the police force to apologize would have any impact on Boothby. "Not at all," Boothby replied.

Legal issues

When asked about an apology, Boothby said he'd only consider it after immersing himself on all the legal issues surrounding the case with solicitors.

Boothby's apparent willingness to brush off council's recommendations brought an angry response from Councillor Gordon Chong (Don Parkway), normally a strong supporter of the Toronto force.

"On whether the opinion of this council would weigh heavily on your mind, was your answer no?" an incredulous sounding Chong asked Boothby.

"My response was that I would not be influenced by what the decision of council was. I'm my own person," Boothby replied.

"I'm kind of astounded," Chong said. "Can I infer from that, that you have an extremely low opinion of council both collectively and individually?"

"Not at all," the chief replied. "You can infer from that, that I'm not influenced by what council may think on some issue. I'm my own person. I'll think it out and give my own opinion."

"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