Friday, August 30, 1991

Sally Ritchie

Victim's complaints bizarre, inquiry told

A woman's prior complaints to the police bothered a detective investigating her allegation that an officer sexually assaulted her, an inquiry has heard.

Detective Sergeant Donald Caisse testified yesterday at a provincial inquiry into the practices of the Metro police force's internal affairs department.

The inquiry is considering the case of Brian Whitehead, who was arrested in the woman's apartment by Caisse and his partner, Detective Sergeant Richard Lundy, in November, 1989.

One of the first things, they did after hearing the woman's allegation was to see whether she had made any previous complaints, Caisse said, adding that this is standard police practice.

Caisse said they retrieved from the files a "couple of prior occurrences concerning (the woman) ." "They were bizarre," Caisse said, later adding there were three or four versions of one complaint.

Caisse said this was one of his concers when he and Lundy went to see assistant crown attorney Uriel Priwes the day after the arrest. The detectives believed they had a weak criminal case against Whitehead, Caisse said.

Dianne Martin, the victim's lawyer, was "offended and appalled" by Caisse's references to the woman's prior complaints. "It demonstrates an utter unwillingness to listen with sympathy and respect to a victim of sexual assault," she said in an interview. "It smacks of a desire to search out ways to attack the credibility of a thoroughly credible witness."

Martin would not describe the nature of the complaints, saying it was not relevant at this point. Referring to the different versions of the one complaint, she said it was inaccurate and unfair of Caisse "to characterize as changes or variations in evidence what are merely additions of detail."

After a break in which lawyers haggled over how to deal with the issue, Caisse described the changes in a different way. "There was an add-on that bothered me" in the complaint, he said.

Whitehead was originally charged with sexual assault and extortion, but later pleaded guilty to Police Act charges of corrupt practices and deceit.

In preparing for the police tribunal, John Hamilton, Whitehead's lawyer, and the trails preparation officer, Staff Inspector Al Griffiths, prepared the statement of facts later read at the trail.

Caisse said he was not consulted about the changes, which included deletions of statements that emphasized Whitehead had used his badge to allegedly extort sex from the woman. But Caisse said he did not feel it was inappropriate for them to change evidence given by the woman, who is identified only as Jane Doe.

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Created: March 17, 1998
Last modified: March 17, 1998

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