Friday, July 17, 1998
Handshake seals apology to Jane DoeIt was the one unscripted moment of an otherwise carefully staged apology by Toronto police Chief David Boothby and the police services board to the rape victim known only as Jane Doe.
Moments after the chief read the apology letter yesterday and was talking to reporters, Doe made her way through the media throng and extended a hand to a startled Boothby.
"Chief Boothby, thank you very much," Doe said as she reached across the table where the police services board was meeting at police headquarters. "I appreciated it. It meant a lot ," she said.
The chief, clearly taken aback by the gesture, later said: "It was very spontaneous. I didn't know who she was but I made an assumption. I thought it was very nice."
The handshake was a dramatic moment, a symbolic end to Jane Doe's long quest for an apology from the police for her 1986 rape.
The woman had sued police for violating her Charter rights by not notifying her that she was the possible target of a serial rapist. A judge earlier this month agreed police had used her as "human bait" to catch a sexual predator -- the so-called Balcony Rapist -- and awarded her more than $220,000.
Boothby preceded his prepared statement with an impromptu comment that as a father, husband and police chief he took the issue of sexual assault seriously.
What Boothby told Jane Doe'On behalf of the Toronto Police Service and myself, please accept our sincere apologies for the pain and suffering caused by the attack and sexual assault committed on you by Paul Douglas Callow. I also regret the further stress that the 12 years of litigation must have caused you.'
"On behalf of the Toronto Police Service and myself, please accept our sincere apology for the pain and suffering caused by the attack and sexual assault committed on you by Paul Douglas Callow," he then said, reading from the four-paragraph letter.
"I also regret the further stress that the 12 years of litigation must have caused you," he said, adding the force was committed to reviewing its approach to crimes against women.
the litigation has already cost taxpayers more than $500,000, police board members were told yesterday privately. That doesn't include the $220,000 awarded to Doe. There's also the issue of legal costs for Doe, yet to be decided.
Doe sat quietly with her lawyers, Eric Golden and Sean Dewart, as police services board chair Norm Gardner stood to welcome about 25 supporters of Doe from rape crisis centres and women's groups. He then read a letter signed by all six board members asking Doe to accept "our sincere apologies for the pain and suffering caused by the attack and sexual assault committed on you."
Doe shakes handsThe letter said the board views sexual assault as an extremely serious crime and that the board was committed to receiving an annual audit on women's issues.
Madam Justice Jean MacFarland of the Ontario Court, general division, also ruled the failure to warn Doe about the rapist and use women as bait to catch him was fueled by systemic sexist discrimination across the force.
After reading his letter, Boothby was asked twice by reporters why he mentioned the crimes committed by Callow but not the shoddy police investigation criticized by the judge. The chief said simply: "I've read the letter out."
The chief then went on to say that there were implications from MacFarland's ruling for police forces across Canada, which the force was still trying to figure out.
Even though the apology -- which was still being hammered out by lawyers and board members in a private session minutes before the public meeting -- clearly avoided making any comment on the police investigation of Doe's rapist in 1986, Doe believed it to be sincere and welcomed it.
'There's a lot of closure I received today'"There's a lot of closure I received today," Doe said, admitting it wasn't the way she would have worded the apology. "I'm moving on here," she said. "We have an apology and a commitment to effect change (by the police.) That is a positive thing."
Patti McGillicuddy, spoke on behalf of 18 women's support groups saying they all welcomed both the board's comments and Boothby's apology. "Let us not argue about what has been changed and what has not," she said. "Remember that just seven month ago the Toronto police defended the balcony rapist investigation as an exemplary one, giving the impression that no changes were needed."
"We know that police officers are appalled by sexual assault and want rapists caught and imprisoned," she said. "Jane Doe's case was not about individual officers but about a system of policing that needs change."
It's a statement that Doe has often made saying her main goal in pursuing the lawsuit was for constructive reasons so that no other woman has to go through what she endured.
McGillicuddy said an offer to work with police and address protocol regarding sexual assault investigations was being made in good faith and women's groups want to co-operate with police.
|"Balcony Rapist" case...|
Created: February 14, 1999|
Last modified: February 14, 1999
Jane Doe, c/o Walnet Institute|
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