Saturday, August 31, 1991

Sally Ritchie

Detective thought woman was lying, inquiry told

Although almost every detail of a woman's story was confirmed by a police probe, one investigator thought previous reports of sexual assaults indicated she was a liar, an inquiry has been told.

Detective Sergeant Donald Caisse testified at a provincial inquiry yesterday about his investigation of Constable Brian Whitehead. The inquiry is looking into the practices of the internal affairs unit of the Metro police.

A woman who has been identified only as Jane Doe, reported that Whitehead had sexually assaulted her.

In November of 1989, Caisse and his partner, Det. Sergeant Richard Lundy, investigated the woman's complaint.

Dianne Martin, the woman's lawyer, asked Caisse whether his assessment that the woman lacked credibility was based on two previous reports she had made to police on sexual assaults.

"What (the reports) showed me is that previously there were a lot of inconsistencies," Caisse replied.

Martin said in interviews yesterday and today that there are no inconsistencies in these reports. "Is it your position that there's something (in the reports) ... that shows her to be a liar?" Martin asked. Caisse said yes. Martin suggested that what Caisse considered to be "bizarre" about the reports might in fact be an "odd coincidence." He said he thought the occurrences were themselves bizarre. He admitted he had never discussed the reports with the victim.

Martin also asked whether the investigation had confirmed details of the woman's story about what had happened with Whitehead. "In most parts, yes, but not what I felt were the main ones," the detective answered. He defined one of these main areas as a lack of evidence that there had been a lack of consent in the sexual activity that had occurred with Whitehead.

Part of the problem, Caisse said, was that tapes of telephone conversation between the woman and Whitehead did not prove a lack of consent. He admitted however, that he and his partner were responsible for the tone of the conversations. He agreed they coached the woman to sound like she was befriending Whitehead in order to lure him back to her apartment, where the detectives ultimately arrested him.

Martin asked if he felt that Whitehead had acted guilty when arrested. Caisse has testified that Whitehead was belligerent and enraged.

"What I believe is not a proof of a case in court," Caisse answered. "He acted like a guilty man, didn't he?" Martin persisted. "Yes," Caisse replied.

Martin said in an interview that "it was a very strong criminal case and it was weak rationalization in hindsight to say it wasn't." She believes the officers were intransigent about the woman's ability to handle a criminal trial, because after the assault the woman was emotional. But as time went on and the victim recovered she became better able to withstand a trial, Martin said. "She changed and they didn't permit her to change."

Martin said she believes the attitudes are intrinsic in the way the department operates. "I'm not saying it was a malicious decision, but that it was a structural problem.

Caisse was with the department until January, 1990, when he was transferred to a criminal investigation branch.

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

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