Monday, October 21, 1996

Rosie DiManno

Let's not forget this anonymous
fighter for justice

I don't want to sound sanctimonious. But I didn't think I could live with myself, ethically, if I stayed silent. It was haunting me.

-- Miss Jane Doe
September, 1992

Jane Doe died sometime last week, aged 36, her badly decomposed body found in her home by police on Saturday.

No one had seen or talked to Jane Doe in several days, which was unusual because she was a well-known housing activist in the community, familiar to neighbors. Friends insisted yesterday that she had not seemed particularly depressed recently.

The coroner's office would characterize it only as a "sudden death." There is as yet no cause of death, although the coroner said last night that suicide had not been ruled out. Toxicology tests have been ordered. There is no sign of foul play.

Jane Doe was, however, an epilectic, according to her friends, and she had suffered seizures in the past. Yesterday afternoon, police removed some syringes from the apartment.

The demons that haunted Jane Doe -- which is how she was known in the media reports after her emotional appearance at a provincial inquiry five years ago into the administration of the Metro police internal affaires unit -- were never quite dispelled after her brave, stubborn campaign to see at least a shred of justice emerge from her ordeal.

There are other Jane Does in the annals of complaints against the police. This one came to the public's notice during the Gordon Junger inquiry (the officer and sometime male prostitute whose private deal with investigators saw him leave the force rather than face charges). But the Junger inquiry later expanded to become known colloquially as the Junger/Whitehead inquiry.

Brian Whitehead was a Metro sergeant. Jane Doe was -- how to say this? -- an occasional prostitute. A professional woman who had at one time, much earlier in her life, supported herself by prostitution. One night in 1989, whihle she was experiencing some financial problems, Jane Doe decided to return to the trade, if only briefly.

But it was on that night, to her eternal regret, she came across Brian Whitehead, a police officer who demanded sexual acts in return for not charging her with prostitution. He used his badge to extort sex.

Jane Doe would subsequently complain to police. In early days, she merely wanted Whitehead off the force and told investigators she would settle for Police Act charges. Later, she wanted to have criminal charges laid against him.

Her original complaint was corroborated by internal affairs investigators. Under coaching from two IA officers, Jane Doe had telephone conversations with Whitehead (he called her) in which (as she had been instructed) she led the officer to believe she wanted to see him again. When he came to her apartment, the two IA investigators jumped out and announced he was under arrest.

But Whitehead was never charged criminally, in part because investigators claimed they could not establish lack of consent on Jane Doe's part -- precisely because of the phone conversations in which she had been coached by the cops. Police also said they thought that she would make a dreadful witness because she was too emotional.

In the months that followed, investigators refused to give her Whitehead's surname, never notified her of the Police Act hearing date, her sworn testimony was changed withough her knowledge and no application was made to restrict publication of her name.

At his Police Act hearing, Whitehead pleaded guilty to charges of corruption and deceit and was demoted to first class constable.That's all.

It was only after the inquiry was launched that Jane Doe asked for, and recieved, standing to participate. Her lawyer had to scramble to obtain an injunction to prevent then-police chief Bill McCormack from releasing her name at a news conference.

Jane Doe was not anti-cop. She made this clear in several conversations with the Star. But she worried about the "systemic" problems that made it so difficult for women to bring sexual complaints against the police. That's why she went to the inquiry.

I wish I could use her name, now that she's dead. She should be recognized, and applauded, for her valiant struggle. But she would not want that.

Rest in peace, Jane Doe.

-- Rosie DiManno's column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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Created: November 13, 1996
Last modified: October 22, 1997

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