Toronto
2 min

Not fit for faggots

Cops refuse to release public information to Xtra

FACILITATOR. Peter Bochove is in the forefront of the fight. Credit: David Wall

The gay community doesn’t have a right to know the eventual fate of 19 men facing criminal sex charges in the Bijou raids, police gatekeepers say.



Worrying aloud over the privacy of those charged with committing an

indecent act at Canada’s only porn bar, police are denying Xtra’s access to information request for court data.



“Access to such information is strictly controlled,” writes access to info unit coordinator Sue Cardwell in a Jul 21 letter.



Citing sections eight and 14 of the Freedom Of Information And

Protection Of Privacy Act, Cardwell says Xtra must provide signed notes from each man charged in order to find out when and where they will be tried.



Of course, if Xtra knew their names in the first place, we wouldn’t have to ask for them….



Among other things, Cardwell suggests releasing the information could:

• Interfere with a law enforcement matter

• Spoil expectations of a fair trial, and

• Constitute a privacy invasion, except to the extent “necessary to

prosecute” or “continue the investigation.”



Xtra has 30 days to appeal.



The unit’s acting coordinator admits that the data requested

— such as charges, court dates and names – are issued to the media as a matter of routine.



“There’s a long standing agreement that some information is

released to the media,” says Brenda Smith. “We all know that. You know that.”



Police, in fact, fax out multiple press releases to the media highlighting some of the day’s arrests every single day.



And Canada’s criminal court system is open. Court dates are always released.



“That is correct,” says Smith. “But you are talking now about

something that’s not even current anymore. You’re talking about records that we have, and you’re asking us to violate legislation to release it.



“If you don’t like our decision, appeal it. That’s the way it is.

You’re not going to get it. Nobody else would get it.”



Reminded again that court dates — if nothing else — are regularly

provided to the media upon request, Smith added, “Well, if it’s never a problem, you’re having a problem, so I guess this is the first problem.



“There’s an appeals process there, avail yourself of it and learn a

lesson.”



To date, court data for 10 of the men has been pieced together through various sources and partial police reports — meaning the

gay community may never find out what eventually happens to almost half of those said to be charged.



Police have steadfastly refused to release the names of those

charged in the Bijou raids – public information that should have been given out in the first place.



Police did originally released court dates for the first two groups of men arrested. Trouble is, those dates were… inaccurate.



Of the first four Xtra has tracked, one man failed to appear for his Jul 22 date at Old City Hall and a bench warrant has been issued for his arrest. Another was given a Sep 1 return date, while two others were told to come back Sep 9.



Of the eight men said to be arrested on Jun 15 – listed as Jun 16 in court records – only six were found on the Jul 27 court docket. They received return dates of Aug 20, 25, and 26. Two more were told to come back on Sep 2, another on the 14th.



Seven others were arrested on Canada Day, but several attempts to

confirm their court dates through police, the Crown attorney’s office and other sources have been unsuccessful – leaving nine men and their travels through the justice system unaccounted for.



A Bijou cashier, arrested in the Canada Day shakedown,

faces a single charge of obstructing the police and told Xtra he’s back in court Aug 26.