Toronto
3 min

Hide in your cubicles

STOP. About 60 people met in Cawthra Square Park this month to protest The Bijou mess. Credit: Image by Mark Bogdanovic

A senior cop is warning bathhouse patrons to stop having sex outside of their cubicles.



“Cubicles are closed,” says Insp Kim Derry, the new head of 52 Division’s Criminal Investigation Bureau. “There’s an expectation of privacy and no accessibility to the general public, then there’s no charge for an indecent act.”



Does that mean tub patrons have to keep their doors closed while playing with each other’s pleasure zones?



“That’s right,” Derry says. “It’s two consenting adults in a room, that’s not considered an indecent act.”



What about a steam-room orgy? “That would be another story.”



But law-enforcement types are telling different stories.



“[Derry’s comments] fly directly in the face of what [52 Division boss, Supt] Aidan Maher told us today,” said Spa Excess principal Peter Bochove after emerging from a Jan 20 closed-door city hall meeting.



“Maher was very specific. He said if they want to go upstairs, they have to execute a search warrant, [and] that they’re not interested in what happens at our bathhouses.”



Indeed, Maher is confirming a qualified pledge to stop the busts until incoming chief Julian Fantino makes a policy decision on how tubs serving liquor should be policed.



“I would say, yes,” Maher says. “I think there’s quite a bit of heat on the new chief. And, realistically, we’d like to welcome him to the community and not bar him after the first meeting. So, we’ll be showing some consideration.”



(Fantino spoke at a community meeting on Wednesday night, after Xtra went to press.)



Still, Maher leaves the door open: “We may yet have to respond to complaints.”



Bochove says he’s tired of hearing that last part.



“This reminds me of 1978, right up to the bath raids,” says Bochove. “The kind of activity that we’re seeing now, we were seeing it then.



“It’s not just a gay issue. You’ve seen an unprecedented number of bawdy house charges in the past year – huge. Police have an anti-sex policy – all sex – and that’s a change back to how things were.”



Derry took over CIB’s plainclothes unit – which controls prostitution, liquor, and gaming – at the end of last year.



The Bijou “may be a bathhouse,” says Derry, “but it’s still a licensed premise. If they wish to change that – they can get rid of their liquor licence. That changes everything.”



Previously, Derry operated the uniform platoon.



Since taking over the new unit, Derry says he has been joining detectives on routine inspections.



Like The Bijou, both the Spa Excess and Spa On Maitland also serve liquor, and Derry says all three better be operating within the letter of the law when his inspectors visit as many as 10 times this year.



“If they need education and they need support from police, I’ll be the first to stand beside them and help them,” Derry says. “But on the other side of it, if they’re going to create a huge criminal activity that’s going on there, I’ll also stand beside them as they’re going to court.



“I don’t mean that as a threat. All I’m saying to them is that I will be as consistent.



“I’m aware of the rumour that there was an agreement in 52 Division not to charge certain premises or certain types of premises. That was sort of the rumour when I got down here a year ago. Now try and find out who made that agreement or what the agreement was. I can’t find anybody who will own up to it.”



For now, Derry admits that he’s not even sure about what’s legal and what’s not.



Referring to recent court rulings allowing customers to fondle exotic dancers and that a washroom cubicle is a private place, Derry says he’s planning to meet with the Crown attorney’s office to get himself up to speed.



“Once I find out what those rules are, I will inform not only our bar owners and everyone else, but I’ll also let the politicians know.”



Chief Crown attorney Paul Culver says nothing has changed.



“I don’t know what’s going on there, but just because they get a bathhouse licence from the city doesn’t necessarily confer any special status on them as part of the Criminal Code goes,” Culver says.



“If an establishment is open to the public and member of the public can go there and there’s indecent acts taking place in public view, then they can be prosecuted.



“Police haven’t asked me yet, but in a very general nature that would be my view.”