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Homophobic Ottawa prison prez leaves jail unexpectedly

Ministry declines to comment after two top OCDC officials suddenly leave

Credit: Neil McKinnon photo

Two top administrators have unexpectedly left their jobs at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre (OCDC).

The Ottawa Citizen reports that a July 12 memo notified jailhouse staff that Supt Asfia Sultan and Deputy Supt Mark Grady were no longer employees. Further, the two former top officials were not to be let back on the property, and until further notice Kevin Bell will act as superintendent.

In the past, Sultan came under fire in the press because of issues at the jail: overcrowding, the jailing of mentally ill patients and an ineffective weekend transfer program.

Ministry officials are not commenting on the reasons for a sudden departure of the jail’s two top employees.

This is not the first time this year Grady has been in the news. In February, he made headlines when the Ontario Grievance Settlement Board found Robert Ranger, a former prison guard, experienced a homophobic and “poisonous” working atmosphere due to Grady’s actions. At the time of this decision, Grady was president of the correctional services OPSEU Local 411. He also resigned as Ottawa 67’s assistant coach around that time.

The grievance board named Grady as Ranger’s chief bully and upheld a complaint filed against the Corrections Ministry that it allowed harassment against Ranger to continue unchecked from 1998 to 2002. During that time, Ranger worked at the OCDC. When he left, it took 18 months for prison officials to begin investigating his complaints. The 72-page conclusion states:

“The investigator examined three complaints against Mr Grady of alleged discrimination, harassment and poisoned work environment on the grounds of sexual orientation. Specific allegations included that the respondent 1) simulated sex acts to taunt the grievor, 2) repeated the word “cocksucker” in a manner that was not part of a conversation but in the presence of the grievor and 3) made sexual jokes during a training session on Feb 11, 2002, at the expense of the grievor.”

And:

“It is the union’s position that Mr Ranger suffered harassment and discrimination based on his sexual orientation, which was condoned by the employer… the employer did almost nothing to change the environment. The union claims that even when Mr Ranger made a complaint after an incident on Feb 11, 2002, which led to the grievor going off on sick leave, the employer failed to investigate until 18 months after the event. When the report of the investigation substantiated some of the allegations made by the grievor, the employer did nothing to address the workplace environment. The union submits that because of the harassment and discrimination, the grievor became ill and was away from work from Feb 2002 until Mar 2005.”

In an interview with Xtra earlier this year, Ranger talked about how he was left feeling suicidal and needing help for post-traumatic stress disorder. He said “the [grievance] process diminishes what happened because it’s taken so long to get settled. I remember hoping I’d get hit by a bus. I complained to my employer and they turned their backs. They did nothing about it. I fell sick. They still didn’t do anything about it until a year and a half after I left.”

In a recent interview with Ranger, he says he was not seeking revenge when he filed his complaint against Grady.

“Justice finally prevailed for the other guards working in the jail. I’m sure they can work in a much more relaxed atmosphere. I’m happy for them. But what’s been done to me was done, and I’m dealing with it. According to the Human Rights code, the Ministry had an obligation to the other employees. They finally stepped up to the plate and did what they had to do,” says Ranger.

Ranger also says he was informed Grady and Sultan had left and they were not allowed on the property. But he says he was also told they were not fired, nor did this have anything to do with his case.

“I got a phone call letting me know about this. She didn’t use the word ‘fired.’ She said ‘I just want to let you know Mr Grady and Mr Sultan are no longer employees of OPS.’ I asked, ‘So you terminated them?’ The response was ‘No, I said they are no longer employees of the Ontario government.’ She didn’t want to comment if he was fired or reassigned. She told me it had nothing to do with my case. Well, if you read the other newspapers, they spoke with officials in the Ministry. They reported Mr Grady was escorted off the premises and they related it to my case. Obviously people are going to relate it to my case because the Ministry didn’t make it clear it had nothing to do with my case,” says Ranger.

At the time of Ranger’s discrimination and harassment complaints, Grady was a fellow corrections officer. In August 2005, Grady was promoted to president of the jail.

Ranger would not give details on whether he is seeking financial compensation or if it was being sought for the treatment he received from his tormentors. He says the settlement process is ongoing, and he’s in the process of retraining for a new position.