Three suspended Toronto police officers have been charged with sexual assault, following a story that CityNews broke first two weeks ago.
The officers, Sameer Kara, Leslie Nyznik and Joshua Cabero have been charged with sex assault and gang sex assault.
Sources say the three officers allegedly sexually assaulted a parking enforcement officer in mid-January.
The three men have each been released on on $15,000 bail.
They are scheduled to return to court on March 20 at 9 a.m.
During their court appearance on Thursday, all three, in black wool coats and dress shirts, stood, declining when the judge offered for them to sit.
Bail conditions are that they can’t possess or drink alcohol, they can’t contact alleged victim or long list of witnesses, they can’t go to 51 Division, they can’t go to the Westin Harbour Castle or the parking enforcement east office or the bars that attended the night of the alleged incident.
All three all men stood quietly during the appearance, only saying “yes” when the judge asked if they understood the bail conditions and if they planned to abide by them.
If convicted, the officers could be sentenced to as many as 14 years in prison.
CityNews’ investigation has uncovered several details about the alleged incident and the officers, which we can now share.
CityNews first learned through its sources that the alleged victim was apparently assaulted by the three officers at an after-work party in mid-January at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle Hotel. The hotel confirmed to CityNews that it’s cooperating in the investigation.
The three officers are all part of the same platoon out of 51 Division near King and Parliament streets and have between five and 10 years of service on the force.
It took the Toronto Police Service six days since CityNews broke the story to release a statement on the allegations.
The officers’ lawyer in the sexual assault case is being paid by the police, not the police association.
The three officers remain suspended with pay while the internal investigation plays out.
For a mobile-friendly link to a photo of Nyznik, click here.
A background check on Constable Leslie Nyznik conducted by CityNews revealed that he was involved in a 2012 court proceeding.
A 2012 Toronto police dash cam video shows a man — Raymond Costain — being pummelled by Nyznik’s partner.
Costain was initially charged with resisting arrest but was eventually cleared when the judge accused Nyznik and fellow officers of unreliable testimony.
Nyznik was condemned by a judge for offering “incredulous” testimony in the case.
Ironically it was that very case, among others, that Chief Bill Blair used as an example in an internal video he sent to all police officers back in March of 2013 slamming “unacceptable behavior.”
In the video he said: “If you want to be an idiot, you don’t get to be an idiot in our uniform. You don’t get to be an idiot diminishing our organization and you can’t hide behind the badge.”
For a mobile-friendly link to a photo of Kara, click here.
Const. Sameer Kara appeared in an TV documentary film about dating in the South Asian community.
“A lot of women say the same stuff,” he said during a speed dating event.
“I’m looking to get married. My parents expect me to be there already. I know what I want. Now, does what I want actually exist? I don’t know.”
In the film, he was 26 and described what he wanted in a potential partner.
“Family values, respect, someone that has a career or who’s in school who’s trying to get a career. Someone in the South Asian community because at the end of the day, it’s easier, you have things in common. There’s nothing wrong to marry outside of the community, but I’m looking to stay in the box.”
“Am I looking for the modern type? Yes and no. I want someone that has the old family values and culture that my parents were brought up with.”
Kara was also involved in a 2010 arrest of three people armed with loaded handguns in Toronto.
Const. Joshua Cabero
For a mobile-friendly link to a photo of Cabero, click here.
Cabero, along with Nyznik, participated in a 51 Division fashion show as part of charity event for urban youth in November 2012.
Police and legal response
“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.”
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