Thursday, July 16, 1998

Phinjo Gombu


Police Board backs off on apology to Jane Doe

Wording must be careful because of liability worries, Gardner says

The Toronto police services board will issue a statement today on the successful lawsuit by Jane Doe -- but not necessarily an apology, board chairman Norm Gardner says.

The board has run into problems with issuing a planned apology to Doe, despite Gardner's assurance at a city council meeting last week that she would get one, he said yesterday.

During that meeting councillors voted overwhelming to apologize to Doe and other Toronto women for the actions of police officers in their handling of Doe's rapist.

"There's going to be a statement," Gardner said late yesterday afternoon. "We're working on that... that's all I can tell you right now.

"The problem relates to liability and the fact that there are other people implicated in the suit," Gardner said. "We've got our legal people working on trying to come up with something that doesn't infringe on anybody's rights."

Judge ruled police violated Doe's charter rights

Doe successfully sued police over their handling of the balcony rapist probe in 1986 after an 11-year-court battle. Madam Justice Jean MacFarland of Ontario Court, general division, ruled that police violated Doe's charter rights by failing to warn her about a serial rapist who they had already identified near Church and Wellesley Sts.

Saying the officers used women as bait to catch the rapist, the judge awarded Doe $220,000. Awarding Doe's legal costs will be considered by MacFarland in the fall.

Many of Doe's supporters are expecting to be at the police services board meeting today to ensure the board and Toronto police Chief David Boothby don't back away from an apology.

But Gardner said he's been advised that the wording of the statement must be careful, because other people named in the lawsuit -- besides the police services board -- could appeal the decision.

Others named in the lawsuit are former chief of police Jack Marks, retired Detective Sergeant Bill Cameron and Acting Inspector Kim Derry.

"It was mentioned to me by a police source that the potential for an appeal could be by another group of police services because the risk of multiple lawsuits being addressed against them," Gardner said.

It doesn't have to be the city (that funds the appeal). There are a lot of other police services that are at risk as a result of this judgement."

Two lawyers are drafting the statement, and Gardner said one thing that must be considered is an outstanding multimillion dollar lawsuit against police by eight rape victims of Paul Bernado, who was the Scarborough rapist.

The lawsuit was filed in December, 1996 but has been held in abeyance since then after an agreement between the law firm of Weirs and Folds -- which fought the Doe case for police -- and lawyers for Bernado's victims.

Both sides agreed to wait for the outcome of the balcony rapist ruling before proceeding with the lawsuit. The Scarborough allegations cover many similar issues such as police negligence, inadequate training and resources for sexual assault investigations in the mid-to the late-'80s.

Bernado was also found guilty of murdering teens Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy after he moved from Scarborough to Port Dalhousie near St. Catharines.

"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