Thursday, May 27, 1999

John Davidson

p. A1.

Watchdog urged officer face charges

Instead, transfer followed allegation of misconduct

A Toronto police force internal committee recommended the former commander of the sex assault squad face serious disciplinary charges after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced, sources say.

Staff Inspector Brian Duff could have faced a full-blown public hearing if Chief David Boothby had taken the advise of a now defunct internal police watchdog group known as the Professional Standards Review Committee.

But that never happened. Instead, Duff was transferred from his high-profile job to a police division in 1996 and docked some pay as punishment after his boss at the time — Deputy Chief Mike Boyd — appealed the committee's recommendation directly to Boothby, sources said.

The committee, which was made up of senior officers and an independent crown attorney, was given the mandate of reviewing serious breach of discipline cases in order to recommend what action, if any, should be taken. It was disbanded earlier this year.

If Duff had been charged under the Police Services Act, he could have faced a maximum penalty of dismissal from the force.

Police watchdog urged changes

The allegations against Duff only came to light this week after Detective Girdlestone — a former sex assault squad officer — filed an $8 million civil suit, claiming senior officers attempted to discredit him for bringing allegations of sexual misconduct within the squad to light.

Girdlestone claims the incidents involved three female employees working in the sexual assault squad and that the misconduct was "observed to be committed by Staff Inspector Brian Duff," the suit alleges.

Insiders say senior brass were stunned by the allegations made in the 21-page lawsuit and were quick to describe many of them as a personal vendetta by an officer who has an axe to grind.

But on the issue of what happened to the allegations involving Duff, it's clear some action was taken.

Several sources have told The Star that the decision not to prosecute Duff under the police act only came after the three female complainants said they were satisfied with how Boys handled the case.

Officially, there was little the force was willing to release yesterday, citing the legal fight that may ensue.

However, the senior officer who made the decision to resolve the sexual harassment matter by removing Duff from his job, said yesterday he and other senior brass did the right thing.

"There was no cover up," said Boyd, who many regard as a leading candidate for the next police chief.

Boothby recently announced he will be retiring in February.

"There was no retaliation," said Boyd, adding he could not discuss the case any further because of the lawsuit.

Boothby became upset when asked last night why he'd overruled the committee's recommendation on disciplinary charges. "Are you saying I did that? Are you saying I did that?" the chief demanded. "He refused further comment saying the issue "is a civil matter."

In the civil suit, which contains allegations yet to be proven in court, Girdlestone alleges.

Police union boss awaiting report on lawsuit

Police brass wanted to delay his allegations from becoming public until after the "Jane Doe" civil trial because it would have had a "serious impact on the credibility of officers involved" in the case.

The rape victim won a $220,000 lawsuit last August when it was found police used her as human bait to catch a serial rapist.

An officer, assigned to investigate his complaints by Boyd, offered a resolution that would in effect, "sweep the matter under the carpet."

When Girdlestone refused to abandon his quest for a proper investigation, his gun was seized in May, 1997 by Staff Inspector Ken Cenzura, who took over from Duff as head of the sexual assault squad.

The force claimed Girdlestone was no longer mentally fit to carry it.

Named as defendants in the suit are some of the most senior officers on the force, including Boyd and Deputy Chief Joe Hunter, Cenzura, and two other officers — Inspector Kim Derry and Detective Sergeant John Brown. The Toronto police services board is also named in the suit.

Staff Inspector Duff, who is currently attached to 32 Division in the city's north end, is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which was filed last month.

Girdlestone is working out of the force's special investigations services unit, but is currently on leave.

News of the suit comes as a joint city and police services board task force study the structure and management techniques of the force's senior command.

And in a complaint that goes to the very heart of Girdlestone's allegation, the Toronto police association is awaiting the findings of a civilian review of the force's discipline system, which the union claims unfairly punishes rank-and-file members and rarely disciplines senior officers.

Despite reports the union is bankrolling the lawsuit, Craig Bromell, head of the 7,000-member union, said yesterday he was surprised to hear about it.

He said he wouldn't comment further on the suit until he had heard from his legal assistance plan committee.

He said the committee, which is made up of union stewards and other union officials, operates somewhat independently from the union executive.

Bromell said that any member of his union can apply for financial aid in filing civil suits, but the funding may not necessarily be approved by the committee.

He said he is awaiting a report later this week from the committee about the lawsuit, before the union decides on any course of action.

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: October 9, 2000
Last modified: October 9, 2000
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