Vancouver
3 min

Done nothing wrong

Some 'not guilty' pleas expected in Calgary bathhouse raid

ATTENDING WITH SKEPTICISM. Keith Purdy finds it kind of weird to sit on a committee across from police after the raids on Goliath's bathhouse Credit: Gareth Kirkby

There will be a lot of “not guilty” pleas entered when the men arrested during and after last month’s police raid of Goliath’s bathhouse in Calgary go to court in a few weeks.



At least one man charged with being a “found-in” at the bathhouse is planning to challenge Canada’s bawdy house laws. So are the two staff, one manager and two owners charged with “keeping” a bawdy house.



“We have done nothing wrong,” says Lonnie Nomeland, manager of the operation. “We’re not going to let this one go. I won’t let anybody stop on this one.”



Terry Haldane was in Goliath’s hot tub when an estimated 30 police descended on the bathhouse and arrested patrons and staff. Haldane thinks it’s time someone took on the bawdy house laws, which date back to 1892. And he thinks police have got to get their heads around gay sex culture and the reality that many gays have sex in places other than their bedrooms.



“I’ve had a few weeks to think about it,” says Haldane. “I’ve got angrier because of what they’re saying about our sexuality. I’m prepared for a good fight in the long haul. I live very openly. I’m not worried about the press coverage. Somebody has to be up there [in front of the press microphones] and not be afraid.”



Pride Calgary scheduled a queer community “summit” Jan 8 to discuss the Goliath’s raid.



“We want to make sure everyone’s on the same page and gets proper information and [we want] to get direction from the community,” says Pride co-chair Keith Purdy. So far, Pride Calgary is the only one of 63 local gay organizations to have spoken out against the police raids and in support of the customers, staff, manager and owners of the bathhouse.



There have been two meetings of the police-community liaison committee since the raids, as well. Though some gay members of the committee threatened to resign after the raids, nobody has done so yet.



“It’s kind of weird being on the committee,” says Purdy. “Calgary is a different city than a lot of others. It’s not as militant or outspoken. I have reservations about the liaison committee but at this time my [organization] doesn’t want to withdraw. But we’re attending with skepticism.”



Purdy and gay activist Stephen Lock want the Crown to drop charges, and for the police to apologize for the raids, pledge to not do it again, and educate themselves about gay sex culture.



Lock says the liaison committee discussed the need for police education on gay sex issues at its Jan 6 meeting. And Purdy notes that Cst Doug Jones, the police liaison to the gay community, has committed to try to convince the Crown Prosecutor to drop all charges.



Lock says police Insp Retvik attended the liaison meeting and tried to tell members that the onus was on them to take a middle-of-the-road position on the raids. Gay members made it clear that they will not be used as stooges for the police and that the onus is on the police to heal the broken relationship between the community and police since the raid-and to be seen to heal the relationship, says Lock.



“People lose sight of what this is about: 17 guys who are going through hell on this.”



Lock says there are rumours that the Crown will offer the “found-ins,” 10 of whom are married men, the option of pleading guilty on paper to the charges and attending special classes, in order to avoid appearing in court.



But a staffer at the Crown Prosecutor’s office says there is no indication of such a deal being in the offing. As of press time, it appears the charges will proceed at the Jan 23 court date, says Crown Attorney Ken Payne. The names of all charged men will be publicly posted outside the courtroom.



Payne, who also sits on the police liaison committee to the gay community, cannot recall a time when Calgary’s Crown decided to drop charges. “Police take complaints, respond to complaints and decide whether to lay chages. The Crown’s role is to advise whether charges are likely to result in a conviction.”



Purdy says he is hoping that Calgary media will have the presence of mind to not publish or broadcast the men’s names. There have been suicides by married men charged in sex raids in Canada and the United States.



Purdy requests that readers write the police chief to oppose the raid.



POLICE CHIEF JACK BEATON

Phone: 403.206.4585

Fax: 403.206.4552



E-MAIL:

cps@calgarypolice.ca

jack.beaton@calgarypolice.ca