Three Toronto police officers stand accused of explosive allegations that they sexually assaulted a colleague at an after-work party last month.
The officers — who work at 51 Division near King and Parliament streets and have between five and 10 years’ experience on the force — have been suspended with pay while the internal investigation plays out. The alleged victim, a woman, is a parking enforcement officer.
No charges have been laid.
“It’s early in the investigation, and it’s only an allegation,” said Gary Clewley, the lawyer for the three officers.
“In fairness to everybody … this thing has got to be allowed to be played out and that means everything gets put on the table, and then people can make up their own minds.”
Mike McCormack — president of the Toronto Police Association, which represents both the accused and the alleged victim — said the officers’ suspension is not a determination of guilt. They have been removed from duty so the investigation can continue “unfettered.”
“This is not a good situation for anybody involved,” McCormack said. “Everybody involved in this situation is extremely stressed and distraught on all parts.”
Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby said police are usually poor at investigating themselves and the province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) could take charge of the probe.
But the SIU, which is aware of the situation, said it does not normally investigate off-duty officers “acting in the course of their private lives.”
“If, however, an officer is off-duty and police equipment or property is used or the officer identifies himself or herself as a police officer in the course of the occurrence, the SIU can investigate if there is death, injury and allegations of sexual assault,” the police watchdog told CityNews.
Police spokesman Mark Pugash said he’s not allowed to comment on the investigation under the Police Services Act, but the investigation follows a procedure mandated by Queen’s Park.
“The province of Ontario created a mechanism by which allegations against police officers are investigated,” police spokesman Mark Pugash said in an email.
“It is subject to close scrutiny and accountability. If Mr. Ruby is unhappy with that system, he should address his concerns to those who created it.”
Mayor John Tory said he was troubled by the news, but would wait to pass judgment.
“These kinds of allegations are always very disturbing, but there’s a process in place to deal with them,” he said. “I think we should let that process take its course until further notice.”