Friday, July 31, 1998

Phinjo Gombu

p. B1.

Jane Doe offers her thanks and a gift

Council touched by her good humour

A standing ovation by city council greeted the woman known only as Jane Doe as she thanked councillors for urging the police board not to appeal her legal victory against the force for its handling of the balcony rapist case.

And as a gesture of her thanks, after being welcomed to council chambers by Mayor Mel Lastman, Doe handed him and other councillors a small gift. It was a bag of turquoise-colored match books with the inscription "Jane Doe, a match for the cops."

A gracious Lastman, who earlier had been introduced to Doe privately, said he appreciated the gift and the sentiment behind it. "I'm sorry about all the problems you've had," Lastman told Doe.

Lastman said the humour behind the gift was laudable, considering Doe's 11-year legal battle after she was sexually assaulted by the balcony rapist in 1986. "I think if you don't have a sense of humour you are in bloody trouble," Lastman said. "What she's gone through is hell."

Doe also spoke of another gift -- one for youngsters in schools. Having received the $220,000 cheque --the damages awarded her in the case -- she told council that she was in the process of setting up an endowment fund to help projects for pupils.

The meeting with council took place just a day after the Toronto Police Services Board voted formally not to appeal the verdict. There is still some uncertainty, however, about whether individual officers named in the suit will do so.Doe thanks council for help They include former chief Jack Marks, retired detective sergeant Bill Cameron and Inspector Kim Derry. The deadline for an appeal is 4 p. m. Tuesday.

Police board chair Norm Gardner said he had been contacted by a Toronto Police Association official. A union spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, for the most councillors, who voted 51-1 earlier this month not to appeal the case, and resisted a last-minute lobbying effort by lawyers for the police board and the city solicitor to reopen it this week, it was the first time they'd met Doe.

Many of them shared a few words with her about her victory, which came when Madam justice Jean MacFarland of the Ontario Court, general division stated police had been negligent by not warning her about a serial rapist.

Felt vindicated

Doe's long battle involved her having to win the right to sue police, a right upheld by divisional court and a court of appeal.

Deputy Mayor Case Ootes (East York) normally a reserved man, went out of his way to seek out Doe in the lobby of the council chamber and introduced himself, saying "Thank you for helping us make a better city."

"Thank you on behalf of everybody in the city," police board vice-chair Judy Sgro told Doe. Doe then stood beside Lastman at the mayor's chair, after Rogers Cable, which broadcasts council meetings, blacked out the show.

She said council's decision to back her was a triumph for the city. "It was clear in the unanimity of the vote hat you were cutting across political boundaries, that you were cutting across geographic areas of our new city, as you were cutting across gender lines," she said.

Endowment fund

Doe said that, as someone who had grown up in Toronto and loves the city, she felt vindicated that the political representatives of its citizens supported her.

"My case was never about an individual officer, but rather about systemic attitudes and beliefs that prevent some officers from performing their duties in a beneficial and cost-effective way," Doe reminded council.

There was some levity and a crack from Lastman when Doe told council she had gifts. "It's half the money," Lastman said, a big grin on his face. "You wish it was half the money," Doe replied.

Later, outside council chambers, Doe said the match book, if received in the right spirit, was an example of "the kind of humour that has sustained me throughout my life and certainly throughout the case."

Asked about an appeal by individual officers, Lastman said he hoped they wouldn't appeal. "Id like to see the whole issue gone. I'd like to see it forgotten and I'd like to see (Doe) carry on with her life and hopefully she can get it back together again," Lastman said. "And I think she has, the way she sounds."

"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