Toronto
3 min

Got booze, no privacy

Pussy Palace cop can imagine naked lesbians felt 'awkward'

WOMEN OVERHEATING. Inspector Dave Wilson sent his men to the Pussy Palace expecting a "sexorama." Credit: Dave Wall

Lesbian sex sure must be dangerous.



Because, according to the male Toronto police officer who led last year’s bust on the women’s bathhouse, safety was the main reason five male officers had to spend an hour investigating liquor licence infractions while in the presence of more than 300 naked and partly naked lesbians.



So eager were the male officers to enter the fourth-ever Pussy Palace, they planned on going in even before they were called by the two female undercover agents already inside looking for infractions.



“It is likely I would have gone inside anyways. For sure? No. Probably? Yes,” Inspector Dave Wilson testified during last week’s Pussy Palace court case.



Bathhouse organizers Rachel Aitcheson and JP Hornick are charged with six counts each of liquor infractions after police visited the Sep 14, 2000 event. Their lawyer Frank Addario is asking Ontario Court Judge Peter Hryn to stay the charges on the grounds that the investigation by male officers violated the women’s rights according to the Charter Of Rights And Freedoms.



The two days of hearings (there’s a half day remaining on Thu, Nov 29) offer a glimpse of what makes Wilson and his colleagues tick.



For example, though police had days to plan the investigation and knew it was a women-only event, Wilson told the court he made no effort to enlist female officers in the operation. (The investigation was initiated when two anonymous female callers told police that illegal sex acts had happened at past Pussy Palaces and that it would be a “sexorama.”)



“Given the nature of the event and the nature of this community, they [the male officers] were the most appropriate officers for this investigation,” Wilson said.



Two female undercover officers, Janet Hall and Chris LaFrance, were involved. They entered posing as customers at 12:12am, about a half hour before the male officers entered. But the agents didn’t question organizers or lay charges. Hall testified that LaFrance called in the male officers before the two had even toured the building.



Why not ask questions and lay charges themselves?



“It was an officer safety issue,” Hall said. “Once you’ve gone in undercover, you can’t announce you’re a police officer.”



It wasn’t just the safety of the two undercover officers that prompted the visit, according to Wilson. The safety of the Pussy Palace customers was also a purpose.



“To ensure that everybody was safe and that it was in compliance,” said Wilson.



The naked and partly naked women who ran to hide from the male officers didn’t see it that way.



“I was shocked,” said witness Renne Racine, who was a Pussy Palace volunteer. “It wasn’t a shock that they were police. It was the fact that they were male.”



Hall didn’t testify that she saw any unsafe or non-consensual behaviour. She said she saw topless women dancing (female toplessness is legal in Ontario), two female couples masturbating each other while others watched and one female masturbating herself for a photographer.



The male officers, who were waiting outside, were informed of this behaviour by cell phone. But Wilson and his co-lead investigator Myron Demkiw decided not to investigate the sexual behaviour.



“We decided not to escalate into a criminal investigation as a result of… women getting overheated,” Wilson said.



According to his testimony, Wilson had Hornick brought to the front door area, where he remained for the next 51 minutes. He then had Hornick bring him volunteers for questioning. During that time the other four male officers walked through the four floors of Club Toronto.



“I don’t know what they were looking for specifically,” said Wilson. “I know what I would have been looking for… Minors, throwing up, people engaged in sexual conduct they didn’t want to be part of, exits blocks.” According to Wilson, the officers found none of these things. But he said the lesbian sex on premise was “indecent.”



“If I was involved in those acts and policemen entered, I would be embarrassed… I can envision why they might feel awkward,” he said. “If you have a licensed establishment, you relinquish your right to privacy.”



Hornick and Aitcheson face a maximum penalty of up to $100,000 and up to one year in prison.