Saturday, June 20, 2009

Black Canadian prosecutor accuses Toronto police of sexually motivated strip search

Betsy Powell

A Crown attorney is asking a Superior Court judge to lay sexual assault charges against two Toronto police officers who "forced him to submit to an unlawful strip search," according to court documents.

The prosecutor, identified on the court docket yesterday as R.S., is appealing a decision by a justice of the peace last year not to charge the officers in connection with the Oct. 6, 2007, incident.

The allegation raises "implications for police as it relates to their long impugned practice of conducting strip searches on short-term detainees without the requisite lawful grounds," according to court documents filed by Donald McLeod, the lawyer representing R.S.

The justice of the peace did, however, approve assault charges against the two arresting officers after R.S. took the unusual step of laying charges privately. Those charges were withdrawn in March.

The 37-year-old Crown attorney, who is black, was arrested for causing a disturbance in the Entertainment District and later filed a human rights tribunal complaint alleging racism was behind his arrest. He was identified when the story became public earlier this year.

Now McLeod and Patrice Band, the lawyer representing the Crown, are requesting a publication ban on the full identify of R.S. as well as the two officers.

Justice Ian Nordheimer yesterday adjourned the matter to July 7.
The court documents submitted on behalf of R.S. say there was nothing "that could possibly justify a complete level 3 strip search."

"The applicant believed he was forced to submit to the degrading and humiliating strip search for an improper purpose – the impugned officers wanted to teach him a lesson."

During the strip search, R.S. says he was forced to "touch and manipulate his genitalia with his hands." He submits "that when assessed in the context of the relevant and controlling judicial authorities, the conduct of the impugned officers satisfies the legal elements of sexual assault."
A factum filed on behalf of the respondent says "there is no evidence that the search was conducted in circumstances of a sexual nature."

No comments: