Wednesday, August 11, 1999

Christie Blatchford
in Toronto

p. A8.

Police union wants two senior officers punished

Complaint relates to indecent act charges aganst patrons of gay bar

The Toronto Police Association has asked for the immediate reassignment or suspension of two senior officers pending an investigation of their conduct relating to a sheaf of indecent act charges laid against patrons of a gay porno bar in the city centre.

Association director Andrew Clarke formally delivered a 54-page complaint about Superintendent Aiden Maher and Staff-Inspector Dan Hutt to Toronto Chief Davide Boothby's office yesterday.

As the National Post revealed yesterday in a story outlining the quiet arrangement between the gay community and the force that is supposed to see front-line officers turn a blind eye to such sex offences, the two senior officers — respectively the unit commander and the second-in-charge at the downtown 52 Division that takes in the so-called "gay ghetto" of bars and restaurants — have made unusual efforts to have the charges against the men dropped.

Late yesterday, the chief issued a brief press release, saying the force does "not make special arrangements or secret deals with anyone that would condone criminal behaviour" and noting the organization is concerned with sex acts only if "they occur in public places" and that officers "are instructed to apply the law evenly and fairly."

The Post revealed that Supt. Maher, who is now on vacation and unavailable for comment, last week called on senior Toronto Crown attorney Paul Culver and asked him to drop the charges against patrons of a bar called the Bijou who were arrested earlier this summer in a series of visits by one of two plainclothes squads operating out of the division.

But the Post has now learned that so entrenched is the force's arrangement with the gay community that Supt. Maher brought with him on that visit a standard form — usually used in cases where police are seeking the withdrawal of charges against informants whose information has been useful to them — and that he gave as the reason for his request the fact that the charges were inconsistent with the usual enforcement policy and that ordinarily, the patrons wouldn't have been charged.

Staff Insp. Hutt acknowledged essentially the same thing earlier this week, agreeing that it was at least informally policy not to charge patrons of gay bars with criminal offences, even if, as was allegedly the case with Bijou, they occur in arguably public areas, and that he was in favour of seeing the charges pulled.

Prosecution of such offences is always difficult because of the changing nature of what legally constitutes a public area.

In his five-paragraph release yesterday, Chief Boothby didn't address the union's lengthy complaint.

Last night, his spokesman, Louise Gray, said the chief had only just received the documents from the union. Ms. Gray said if the union was making a complaint, "It will be investigated."

Mr. Culver hasn't yet decided if he will pull the charges.

Staff Insp. Hutt had also tried to have the charges dropped, at one point phoning the officer in charge of the plainclothes squad, Detective Dave Wilson, at home where he was on holidays and asking him to withdraw them.

The issue came to a head because, sources say, Det. Wilson and his squad are furious that their bosses have lobbied to have the charges quashed, and because they believe that heterosexual bars are held by the force to a harsher standard. Were bars in the city's entertainment district offering equivalent sex acts in public areas, sources say, the officers believe they would meet no resistance making comparable arrests.

The Post has learned that when the squad visited the Bijou on a routine liquor inspection, they saw mean openly masturbating and at a so-called "slurp ramp" in a doorless room. The term refers to a plywood fence on a stage in the room where patron put their penises through holes drilled in the plywood and receive anonymous oral sex.

The squad eventually laid a raft of liquor licence offences against the bar owner and 19 criminal charges, all but one against patrons and alleging indecent acts. It is only the criminal charges the command officers are seeking to have dropped.

The police association has also raised questions about Staff Insp. Hutt's conduct on another matter.

Acting on complaints from two constables in 52 Division, the union alleges that Staff Insp. Hutt may have improperly met a citizen who was peripherally involved in a case of "road rage."

A week ago, 51-year-old Oakville man was arrested by two bicycle officers who were responding to "a fraud in progress" downtown. As they pedalled to assist at the call, the motorist allegedly failed to let them proceed through a stop sign, yelled at them that they were breaking the law, brushed up against one of the constable's bikes, and then grapped the officer by the wrist.

The man was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and two counts of assaulting a police officer and released with a promise to appear.

The next day, at the same corner where the arrest had occurred, the same two constables spotted two women and a man holding placards, asking for witnesses to the earlier arrest and come forward. One of the constables took pictures of all three.

The following day, last Saturday, the two officers spotted that man at their station in a small office with Staff Insp. Hutt, who was then allegedly printing off a copy of the arrest information.

The officers, sources say, claim they were worried about "political interference" or something "improper," fears that were compounded when Staff Insp. Hutt allegedly told them the man was a friend of Supt. Maher and Norm Gardner, the chair of the governing police services board.

The constables apparently made notes of the conversation with their boss, and these form a part of the complaint to Chief Boothby.

— National Post
Christie Blatchford can be contacted at

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Created: August 12, 1999
Last modified: January 31, 2001
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