Police inquiry betrays victims
sex assault victim says system failed
Jane Doe furious her cop assaulter, chief got off very lightly
I am the woman who was sexually assaulted by then sergeant Brian Whitehead. I am the woman who testified at the Junger/Whitehead inquiry about the behavior of everyone from the internal Affairs investigators to chief of police William McCormack. I am the woman who lost herself to a cause that was not worth the personal sacrifice.
May 15, 1991, marked the official beginning of a living hell for me. It was the day I had my lawyer contact the attorney general's office to inform them that I had elected to give evidence at the Junger/Whitehead inquiry rather then proceed criminally against Whitehead (the courts had ruled that public inquires and criminal matters could not proceed simultaneously). It is the date I will remember for the rest of my life -- a day of mourning. At that time I believed in the system. My faith in the integrity of police officers to tell the truth led to my participation at the inquiry.
Two years later, I can almost say with certainty that the system failed me and failed the public. Unless the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services has the integrity and courage to fire McCormack, we have all been conned. We have been conned financially (remember what financed the inquiry -- our tax dollars). Morally we have been conned. The public has lost faith in the chief and the force he leads.
It was not that the panel of the commission chaired by Frank D'Andrea did not do a thorough job. They are to be commended for their painstaking two and-a-half year task.
Unfortunately, the powers that be have refused to take the report seriously. The panel instructed the police services board to discipline officers found guilty of gross misconduct. It is now a matter of public record that the most serious penalty levied against any of the officers involved was a forfeiture of three days off (of course, this only happened after three of them were promoted).
I wonder if this was a "sweetheart deal" or just my paranoia setting in? The chief was "counselled" by the board in secret behind closed doors. Gee, I wonder if this was a "secret deal"? The Junger/Whitehead report categorically states that the chief lied about not reviewing Whitehead's sentence. The report also cites other things that most of us find repugnant.
Obviously, the board is better at carpet sweeping than discipline. Yet I recall quite clearly chair Susan Eng stating on public record, "No more secret deals, no more sweetheart deals".
Perhaps we all could have understood the penalty fiasco and the "counselling sessions" if Eng hadn't kept the media and the public out of the meeting. Eng let history repeat itself. The board and senior management of the force are once again hiding behind a disturbing cloak of secrecy at the expense of the citizens they serve. Eng promised us she would clean up the force, and she has failed miserably.
I invested two years of my life because I believed justice would be served. Brian Whitehead walks the streets of this city with a gun, a badge and a salary exceeding $51,000 a year. Susan Eng and the chief collect salaries in excess of $100,000 a year. Prior to the inquiry, I lived very comfortable working at a nine-to-five job. Today I worry about who I can borrow the money from to pay next month's rent.
Over the past several weeks, various people have discussed with me the merits of public inquiries and my feelings about them. I have thought very carefully about weighing the public interest against the human toll that inquiries take.
I have no definite alternatives. In the future, if we must continue to hold public inquiries we must ensure that our legislators grant them more binding powers.
We need only look back at past inquiries and commissions to see their reports have either collected dust on the shelves of bureaucrats or accomplishing nothing at all. I think of the Grange commission that looked at the deaths at the Hospital for Sick Children. Innocent people paid an enormous price and the commission accomplished little if anything.
What is it like for me two years later? It is watching a well written-report sit gathering dust at 40 College. It is knowing that the police will continue to prey on the poor and vulnerable. It is the sadness of watching police officers who were clearly guilty of misconduct getting less than a slap on the wrist.
It is grappling with my own personal and private hell, knowing that I spend two years of my life wasting precious time. It is a time of mourning.