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Sex-assault victim still faults police Add to ...

The woman whose 1986 rape prompted a review of the way in which Toronto Police investigate sexual assaults remains critical of the force, despite a promise by the police chief to implement nearly all of the review's recommendations.

Chief Julian Fantino is to formally present his response to the Jane Doe social audit to the Toronto Police Services Board tomorrow. A document written in advance of the meeting indicates the police service agrees wholly, or in part, with 54 of the audit's 57 recommendations.

But in an interview yesterday, Ms. Doe leafed through the chief's written response to the audit and questioned whether it would result in meaningful change. She also criticized it for what she feels is a lack of consultation with groups who work with sexual-assault victims.

"Nothing has changed," Ms. Doe said. "What does it take in this town to effect changes in policing?"

It's been 14 years since "balcony rapist" Paul Callow attacked Ms. Doe. Since then, she has fought the law and won, successfully suing the police for failing to warn women about the danger and winning $220,000 in the process.

She has also won an apology from the previous chief of police and city council, which ordered city auditor Jeff Griffiths to take the groundbreaking step of reviewing sexual-assault investigations.

Announced last year, Mr. Griffiths's recommendations are intended to be the most lasting legacy of the Jane Doe assault. The recommendations have already won approval from city council and the police services board members.

Chief Fantino writes that 38 of the 57 recommendations are either implemented, or are on their way to being implemented, in an attempt to improve sexual-assault investigations and training.

Mr. Griffiths has taken only a "cursory" look so far at these responses and will likely revisit the audit fully in 2002. But last night, the auditor said that he's "reassured" by some responses, such as increased staffing for the sexual-assault squad that has also taken on more investigations and expanded its hours, which once were 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Ms. Doe, however, is not so reassured. Though there were elements of Mr. Griffiths's audit of which Ms. Doe did not approve -- too much focus on computer technology for investigations, for example.

Ms. Doe's biggest specific quarrel is with the consultation process. A steering committee that would have involved equal numbers of police and women who work with sexual-assault victims was never set up, she said.

Police indicate that 50 or so community groups were canvassed for ideas before the response and such consultation will be continuing. But Ms. Doe said there was a loose focus.

Pointing to what she said are some telling typos in the response -- a reference to a "Naive Women's Resource Centre" -- Ms. Doe notes many of the consulted agencies primarily represent hospitals, youth groups, victims' associations and religious associations, not necessarily those whose specific mandate is to work with assaulted women.

"The right stakeholders were not addressed," she said.

While police training is being reviewed, Ms. Doe feels that such training often lumps together the assaults of adult women with the assaults of children.

Pointing to the fact that another lawsuit similar to her own has just been launched against Toronto police, Ms. Doe said "nothing has changed," not just for authorities, but for society in general.

"The same situation and circumstances that existed 14 years ago -- that put me, in particular, and women in downtown Toronto in jeopardy -- still exist."

 

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