2 min

Nope, no discrimination here

Lawyer fails to stop cops from arresting gay men in parks

IMPLIED CONSENT? Lawyer Ernest Guiste says Kitchener cop went into the bushes. Credit: Jan Becker

An Ontario Superior Court Of Justice judge has ruled that police are not discriminating against gay men in park-sex sting operations.

On Jun 30, Justice Nick Borkovich dismissed a lawsuit brought against Kitchener police by Daniel Webb, who said cops had entrapped him and ruined his life. But Webb’s lawyer says the decision is just the last of a series of ridiculous rulings.

“On the first day in court, [the judge] said in open court that he had reviewed the evidence and didn’t think the police had discriminated,” says Ernest Guiste. “I had two expert witnesses. He denied both of them for reasons that were ludicrous. He said that it was not a discrimination case.

“The police have always given a warning if it’s heterosexuals.”

Webb, an Anglican minister, was charged with sexual assault in 1993 during a police undercover operation. The charges were dropped when the arresting officer failed to show up in court, but Webb’s name had already been published in a local newspaper and he was forced to resign from his job.

Guiste argued in the suit that police violated the Charter Of Rights And Freedoms by singling out gay men. He also charged that the officer had lured Webb into touching the cop’s groin.

“The police stated in their testimony that their objective in the operation was to observe people and if two guys went into the woods and started to undress, they would approach them and lay charges.”

But Guiste says the officer approached Webb, followed him into the bushes and told him he wasn’t a cop.

“Asked why he lied to Mr Webb, he said that he didn’t think if he told him, that Webb would touch him. Webb said that because this guy kept following him into the bushes, he thought he was agreeing to sex. If you lead me to believe you’re consenting and I can reasonably believe you’re consenting, that’s a defence to that charge.”

Guiste also says the judge misused his client’s testimony. Webb had visited the park before.

“Another thing he stated in his reasons is that Mr Webb admitted that he had committed criminal offences. All Mr Webb said was that he had been to the park and had sex on numerous occasions with consenting adults.”

Guiste says Webb did nothing to indicate that he wanted to be seen by the public, which would have been a criminal offence.

“The police indicated they were acting on complaints. They called one witness. She said she and her husband saw two men allegedly masturbating each other, but said they were fully clothed. That woman lived on the same street as the officer who claimed he was assaulted.”

Guiste has until Jul 30 to appeal the case, and says he will. But he adds that whichever side loses the appeal is likely to take the case to the Supreme Court Of Canada.

“If we’re successful, it will certainly affect the way in which police respond to different societal issues. Police would certainly think twice about discriminatory actions.”