OPP Project P fanatic Paul Gillespie is at it again. You will perhaps recall last January when Detective Sergeant Gillespie was all over TV and radio touting Project Snowball, an undercover operation which he claimed had ensnared thousands internationally, and hundreds in Canada.
Several U.S. cases arising from the same investigation were thrown out because of violations of the accused persons' constitutional rights.
Paul was a busy guy, looking everywhere for child porn sympathisers as well as for lookers and downloaders. Lawyer Alan Heisey made a comment that there were a distintinctions to be made among different ages of children portrayed in this pornography. Or something along those lines. We don't know exactly what Mr. Heisey said, but Paul Gillespie took note of the comment and filed a memo insinuating Heisey was a child porn symp.
When Heisey became Chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners, the memo suddenly surfaced.
Heisey was outraged and indicated in some detail just how damaging such a characterization can be.
That this is occurring at the same time Richard Klassen is on the way to collecting damages for having been targeted by Saskatoon Police Superintendent Brian Dueck is interesting. While Gillespie and Dueck were working on schemes to criminalize all manner of innocent people by convicting them as child sex offenders, the targets have been fighting back and exposing their illegal tactics.
On January 17, Rosie DiManno came to Gillespie's defence. Among other things, she said it was improper for Heisey to express any opinion regarding his son's teacher who was facing child porn charges. (DiManno's column is at the bottom of the page)
In 1992, when the accused from Martensville were brought in to the Saskatoon Police station, police officer John Popowich expressed to colleagues that he really didn't think they were guilty. The next thing he knew, he, Popowich found himself charged as being part of the same Satanic cult. As we all learned eleven years later, Popowich was right and he received a $1.3M settlement underscoring how right he was.
If members of the police community are not allowed to raise doubts, even among themselves, how on earth can we expect there to be any checks and balances on a police service?
As this story unfolds, Jim Coyle from the Toronto Star has written a column expressing what we hope is a general reaction. We go one step further and call on Fantino to stop any investigation into the propriety of Heisey's actions and launch a full investigation into Gillespie.
A smear campaign could not overthrow Toronto Police Services Board chairman Alan Heisey. Heisey, 49, was completely exonerated in a report released yesterday by Justice Sydney Robins into private comments the lawyer made to members of the police sex-crimes unit.
Robins wrote in his report he found it "troubling" a confidential e-mail sent to Police Chief Julian Fantino about Heisey's comments was leaked to the media, fueling a firestorm.
"The leak of the confidential police memo was manifestly calculated to damage Mr. Heisey's reputation and undermine, if not destroy, his ability to continue as chair of the Toronto Police Services Board," Robins wrote, adding Heisey suffered a "grave injustice."
The board continues to back Heisey as chairman.
"The conclusion (Robins) came to was the only reason this went out was to smear a very upstanding citizen," board vice-chairman Pam McConnell said.
Heisey said he is pleased with the judge's conclusions.
"The past three months have been a horrible and trying time for me," Heisey said, adding he will stay on as chairman.
"It's been so much fun," he said with a forced laugh.
At a September, 2002, sex-crimes conference, Heisey subbed in for then-board chairman Norm Gardner at a banquet. In a hotel suite before the event, Heisey ended up in a conversation with a lawyer and three police officers, including Det.-Sgt. Paul Gillespie.
In the five- to 10-minute chat Heisey, a father of four, chatted about the case of a private school teacher who was charged with child pornography offences.
Heisey's son was a student at the school.
He asked Gillespie, who investigated the case, his opinion, and indicated he hoped the teacher would not go to jail.
Heisey also commented: "I understand how one could be attracted to the beautiful young body of an 8-year-old, but not children in diapers."
Robins reported a number of officers who heard Heisey's comments felt they were "inappropriate" and "offensive," but found no evidence they interfered with the case.
Gillespie reported the conversation to a senior officer who told him to note it on paper so it could be put into the police computer system. That report was then e-mailed to the chief.
Fantino's investigation into who leaked the e-mail is also nearly done. The story broke on CFTO, but a few media outlets had seen the memo and not written the story. The chief called the leak unacceptable, but would not go as far as saying the person who gave it out should be fired.
Toronto Police Services Board chair Alan Heisey has been cleared of any wrongdoing after an investigation into a controversial conversation he had with a police detective 18 months ago.
Retired judge Sydney Robins also found that Heisey was the target of a smear campaign, and that his comments to a veteran sex-crimes detective at a party were "grotesquely misconstrued" in an internal police memo. The memo was leaked to the media more than a year later, a week after Heisey was named chair of the board.
"The leak of the confidential police memo was manifestly calculated to damage Mr. Heisey's reputation and undermine, if not destroy, his ability to continue as chair of the Toronto Police Services Board," Robins wrote in his 28-page review released yesterday.
The former Ontario Court of Appeal justice was appointed by the board to investigate the conversation documented in a leaked memo, dated September, 2002. It was written by Detective Sergeant Paul Gillespie of the sex-crimes unit to his supervisor, Staff Superintendent Rocky Cleveland.
In it, Gillespie states that Heisey - then a member of the police services board - approached him at a cocktail party during a sex-crimes conference.
During the conversation, he mentioned the case of a teacher from his son's school charged with possessing child pornography.
Gillespie wrote that Heisey told him he hoped the accused "did not go to jail." He also quoted Heisey as saying, "I understand how one could be attracted to the beautiful young body of an 8-year-old, but not children in diapers."
In his report, Robins concludes:
"In no sense was this a statement of his personal beliefs or an indication of sympathy toward child pornography or abuse." The statement, as reported in the memo, was taken out of context. It was part of a five-to-10-minute conversation, in which Heisey was trying to fathom the mind of a pedophile - a seminar topic - "so as to comprehend how one could engage in such behaviour."
Heisey was not trying to influence the police investigation into the teacher at his son's school. He was simply having a casual "cocktail party" conversation with an officer he had just met. Heisey didn't know the teacher, nor did he "have any interest in his case beyond that of a parent" of a student.
Nothing Heisey said compromised the board's integrity nor damaged public confidence in it, so he did not break the board's 15-point code of conduct.
An emotional Heisey said yesterday he was happy the matter was resolved.
"It's been a very difficult time for my family and me," he said, going on to chair a board meeting. "We should get this behind the board and behind the police services."
Police Chief Julian Fantino said the police investigation into the source of the leak was almost complete. "The leak was totally inappropriate and unacceptable," he said. "I take exception to it every bit as much as Mr. Heisey."
Lambasting the media for publishing the document, Fantino stated flatly that there was no smear campaign against board members by the police.
"I don't have any agenda of that nature and I would be very surprised if any of our people did as well," he said.
Fantino said he gave the memo to then-chair Norm Gardner shortly after it was written for him to deal with it. Gardner filed the document and never brought it up before the board.
Then, 15 months later, in January - just after Heisey was named to head the board - the memo was leaked to the media. That same week, Gardner was appearing before a public inquiry to determine whether he breached the Police Services Act by accepting a handgun from a firearms manufacturer and ammunition from the police. Gardner denied he was the source of the leak.
Heisey, a veteran lawyer, has set a progressive record during his three years on the police services board. One of his first steps as chair was to call for a review of the internal police complaints system, and since then he has led the charge to open the police budget to greater public scrutiny.
Board vice-chair Pam McConnell said the experience would not shake the board's progressive agenda.
"In a sense, it makes us even stronger in our right to do our job and our resolve to do our job," she said. "It's a very good ending to a very bad two months."
She said the board plans to set guidelines for its members in holding conversations with police officers, separating "appropriate discourse" from "when it crosses the line," as suggested by Robins' report.
Mayor David Miller called the leak "absolutely unacceptable" and a danger to civilian participation on civic boards.
"I hope this is the end of it and we don't see these kinds of leaks and smears ever happen again," he said. "Recruiting for the police services board is going to be extremely difficult when people are under the threat of things like what happened to Mr. Heisey."
Although Robins was not charged with investigating the source of the leak, he noted the "troubling way" the memo and its contents were handled.
Officers are required to record "for possible future reference ... any concerns he or she may have about conversations with board members or others," he noted.
These memos are then "entered into the system," without a strict procedure to ensure their confidentiality, he wrote. "To truly maintain confidentiality, and ensure fairness, more needs to be done.
"There are few more effective ways of damaging a person's reputation than by the circulation of unfounded rumours of sexual misconduct involving children."
Detective Sergeant Gillespie could not be reached for comment, but Toronto Police Association president Rick McIntosh said the officer followed the correct protocol in writing the memo to his supervisor. "You can't lose sight of the fact that many of our members were offended by Mr. Heisey's comments and that they thought they were inappropriate," he said.
In other business, the board asked the province yesterday to indefinitely extend the life of 12 red-light cameras in Toronto. The program, expected to end this November, is intended to reduce the number of motorists speeding through red lights.
It won't be long before retired Judge Sydney Robins reports to the Toronto Police Services Board on what really happened when board chair Alan Heisey discussed pedophilia with Detective Sergeant Paul Gillespie in the fall of 2002 -- and how Mr. Gillespie's "internal correspondence" on the matter, along with another high-level e-mail straight out of Chief Julian Fantino's inbox, became public 17 months later, a week after Mr. Heisey was elected police board chair and the same day a judicial hearing on the conduct of his predecessor, Norm Gardner, began.
Judge Robins's report will be interesting reading even if it doesn't sort that mess out. As similar informal inquiries into civic sleaze have shown, one pass is never enough to sweep it away.
That's one reason why Mr. Heisey, not waiting for the judge's report, is already musing about stepping down when his current appointment to the board expires later this year. Like so many other frustrated appointees before him, many of whom have fled the board after suffering from bruising personal attacks and whisper campaigns, the latest chair is having trouble seeing the upside of life at 40 College Street.
The various miseries of Judy Sgro, Olivia Chow, Arnold Minors, Bas Balkissoon, Susan Eng and Laura Rowe all tell the same basic story. Its themes are confrontation, intimidation, fear and -- yes -- loathing. As Globe reporter Katherine Harding discovered in this week's eye-opening analysis of police budgeting, fear keeps many experienced municipal politicians off the civilian oversight board altogether.
Mr. Heisey is just the board's latest victim, caught in a cleverly laid tabloid trap from which there is little hope of escape, no matter what the learned judge may say about whodunit and why.
Although the controversies always vary -- Laura Rowe was the last to suffer from sex-related whispers and leaks -- there is a clear consistency in the policy positions held by all the police board victims. They needn't be leftists -- neither Ms. Sgro, Mr. Balkissoon nor Mr. Heisey is that -- but their views on what needs to be done with the board and the service are consistent.
Following his abrupt resignation from the board in the spring of 2002, Mr. Balkissoon wrote a letter that expressed concerns and frustrations almost identical to those Mr. Heisey included in a much more cautious letter to council following his first term on the board.
Both complained that the effectiveness of individual board members is severely hampered by requirements to attend an excessive number of ceremonial events. Mr. Heisey praised the board's cautious progress toward a new civilian complaints process; Mr. Balkissoon criticized the inadequacy of the existing process. Both shared worries about the lack of experience among board members.
The Scarborough councillor also criticized the board's propensity to conduct public business in private, a complaint the new board under Mr. Heisey -- at least until it was sabotaged by the release of the dubious sex memo -- was moving to address. Mr. Balkissoon expressed the need for much greater rigour in the process that produces annual police budgets, and Mr. Heisey's board has announced its intention to apply it.
That alone -- a move on the budget -- would be enough to inspire an anti-Heisey smear campaign, according to some city hall insiders. This is not a sex story, they say, it's a budget story. But you could just as easily say that any board member who dares criticize any operation of the Toronto Police Service comes to grief.
Although there is no conclusive evidence that anybody directly connected to the police leaked the memos -- and there may never be, despite the current investigation -- their very existence is telling enough.
Superintendent "Rocky" Cleveland's sarcastic e-mail to Chief Fantino on the matter, in which he speculates that Mr. Heisey is about to extol "the benefits of mind expanding LSD and heroin," is just silly. "Where do they find these people???" he concluded, presumably referring to board members.
The question goes both ways, obviously, but more forcibly backward.
Nobody who reads Det. Sgt. Gillespie's memo "RE: Conversation with Board Member" will ever dare chitchat with that guy in a hotel-room hospitality suite again. His suspicion, his contempt and his resentment of "Mr. A. Milliken Heisey," as he refers to him repeatedly -- six times in one five-line paragraph -- is merely chilling. But to think that anyone's opinions on anything are a matter of official interest to police -- to be memorialized in a leak-prone file, no less -- is repulsive.
Mr. Gillespie has become a celebrity in his pursuit of pedophiles who use the Internet to lure children. He is credited with personally inspiring Microsoft magnate Bill Gates to develop what is now the leading software tool for tracking Internet pedophiles, and Toronto Life magazine recently celebrated him as a city hero.
Fewer people know that last summer Mr. Gillespie made a plea to the House of Commons to raise the age of consent for sex crimes, thus criminalizing a vast amount of what is now perfectly legal, perfectly human activity, and also to "eliminate the offence (sic) of artistic merit from the Criminal Code."
What that means is that he doesn't want accused pornographers to be able to defend their work as art, even when it is. He wants his crusade against child porn to reach into every art gallery -- and potentially every front parlour -- in the country. Whatever he thinks is porn will become porn. Those little Cupids will disappear from the Old Masters and, it stands to reason, there will be a vastly expanded class of criminals to pursue. But until that day arrives, there is plenty of time available to monitor the suspicious opinions of those who -- if only Ottawa could get its act together -- might well become criminals one day.
Leaked as it was by persons unknown, the Gillespie memo became just another dirty trick aimed at the police service's civilian overseers. In itself, though, it is a persuasive argument for stricter civilian oversight.
The Toronto Police Services Board has called on retired Justice Sydney Robins to investigate controversial remarks board chairman Alan Heisey allegedly made about pedophilia. "We're exceedingly happy that Justice Robins has agreed to do it," board vice-chairman Pam McConnell said.
Robins, who was a member of the Ontario Court of Appeal for 17 years until he retired in 1998, will look in to whether Heisey breached the Police Services Act's Code of Conduct.
Heisey is under fire for informal comments he allegedly made about pedophilia to two officers in a hotel suite during a sex crimes unit seminar in September 2002.
The comments ended up in a confidential police memo that states the father of four spoke about a private school teacher who was charged with child pornography offences.
The memo, leaked to the media, says Heisey indicated he hoped the teacher would be spared a jail term and commented: "I understand how one could be attracted to the beautiful young body of an 8-year-old, but not children in diapers."
Heisey insists his comments were taken out of context and represented a discussion about sex crimes -- not any personal beliefs.
Heisey was a board member at the time, but not chairman.
McConnell said Robins understands a quick resolution is necessary.
"I would expect by the next board meeting we'd have a resolution," McConnell said.
The board meets next at Toronto city hall on Feb. 26.
A separate investigation is under way under the leadership of Chief Julian Fantino to find out who leaked the internal memo.
"We're working on it," Fantino said. "At the end of all this we'll know."
The Toronto Police Services Board has hired a judge to conduct an investigation into alleged comments chairman Alan Heisey made about pedophilia.
"We want this to be over as quickly as possible," Pam McConnell, the board's vice-chair, said last night. She would not give an exact timetable, but said the probe is likely to wrap up next month.
The controversy erupted recently when a confidential police memorandum, containing Mr. Heisey's remarks that were allegedly made more than 15 months ago, was leaked to the media. Judge Sydney Robins will probe whether Mr. Heisey breached code of conduct rules or any other provisions spelled out in Ontario's Police Services Act.
“Want to see the hanging! Want to see the hanging!" chanted the little girl, still capering round”-- George Orwell, 1984
Well, you should have come to Toronto, dear, circa 2004. For it looks like someone fitted Alan Heisey for a good old-fashioned, low-tech lynching.
Heisey, only one week on the job as chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, is under the gun for comments he allegedly made to a police officer, at a social event during a sex-crimes seminar in September, 2002, about a child-pornography case then under investigation. The board decided this week to have an independent lawyer investigate the matter.
In much of life, timing is everything. And in this case, timing would appear to be all.
How else to explain that for 15 months, the weapon of massive destruction that was the memo written by Detective Sergeant Paul Gillespie of the sex-crimes unit about a conversation he had with Heisey sat harmlessly in various files?
Apparently no one who saw it - including the supervisor to whom it was sent, or Chief Julian Fantino, or Heisey's predecessor as police board chair - concluded that it warranted pursuit, either as evidence of Heisey's (then a police board member) trying to influence a police investigation, or of any troubling sympathy on his part for sexual deviance.
The power of that memo was always political - the merest suggestion of a sympathy for pedophilia being enough to undo most careers. So it was only after the reform-minded Heisey was made chair that the missile was launched.
To all appearances, the leak was motivated by malice. Heisey is also being publicly humiliated in one of the worst possible ways on what appears to be the flimsiest of evidence.
There is no tape of the exchange. The officer did not make notes as Heisey spoke. Rather, he wrote his memo later - reconstructing the exchange after the fact. What is almost invariably lost in that kind of note-taking is both accuracy and context - the preambles, the qualifiers, the attributions, the hypothesizing.
As a result, Alan Heisey finds himself in the preposterous position of having to defend - 15 months after the fact - remarks that were quite conceivably misconstrued in the first place, and quite possibly inaccurately recorded afterwards.
But despite their dubious genesis, these remarks are surrounded by quotation marks in newspapers, as though they came straight from Hansard, and sourced, in ever-escalating degrees of authority, from first a "memo," then "a document."
It is a flimsy reed on which to hang someone with a long record of integrity and public service. And it is not to condemn the officer to say that his notes are perhaps being invested with more clout than they merit.
Even contemporaneous note-taking is difficult. In a break in any courtroom, you will find even experienced reporters comparing scribblings, trying to confirm that they heard what they thought they did, and that they got it down accurately.
It is not for nothing reporters do this. One of the few published assessments of note-taking by journalists was done by the University of Regina after Colin Thatcher's murder trial in 1984. The school compared quotes used in media reports with court transcripts and found that almost half were inaccurate and almost half of the inaccurate quotes sufficiently erroneous as to distort meaning.
Even, however, if the remarks attributed to Heisey were made largely as reported, it is not difficult to imagine the innocuous sentiment behind them.
It is not uncommon, when something as shocking as the pornography charges are laid in connection with a school, for those with children in attendance there to want to discuss it, to try to understand it. When a similar thing happened two summers ago to a circle of my acquaintance, it was practically all the parents could talk about.
It seemed also fairly common for those parents to cut the benefit of the doubt to an accused who was familiar to them - as opposed to the scruffy sorts easily labelled "perverts" by the tabloids. I heard many parents say they hoped the allegations were not true, and that if they were that the accused they had known and liked got help.
Moreover, it is hardly evidence of sexual deviance to react with different magnitudes of revulsion to the abuse of ever-younger children. Pedophilia of any sort sickens and appalls. The abuse of diapered infants is off the charts of comprehension.
There's little doubt Heisey would have been wiser to have refrained from discussing a matter under investigation with police. But at least as troubling as anything he allegedly did or said is the fact of the memo leak, a culture that appears to condone this kind of covert monitoring by police of their civilian masters, and the suggestion that such practices are not extraordinary.
Chief Fantino seemed this week to understand that the embarrassment spread beyond the new board chair.
"I feel badly for him, I feel badly for all of us, really," he told reporters. "I feel very disappointed that the document would have been made public. It's created so much harm."
That's a comforting observation. Less so was the comment of police association president Rick McIntosh that the memo-filing was fairly routine.
"You put things down on paper all the time. This would have been submitted as information and passed up the line."
Just as they did in that Orwell novel with the little girl and the hangings.
For someone in the public eye, showing sympathy for pedophilia is akin to committing professional suicide. You might as well leave town, change your name and start fresh somewhere else.
To some, that might seem the only choice for Alan Heisey, the new chair of the Toronto Police Services Board. In his first week, he has been subjected to a public shaming over comments he apparently made 16 months ago, when he was an ordinary board member. Detective Sergeant Paul Gillespie, a sex-crimes investigator, wrote a memo on Sept. 23, 2002, saying Mr. Heisey told him that, while he did not understand how adults could abuse babies in diapers, he could understand "how one could be attracted to the beautiful body of an eight-year-old."
That memo was leaked to CFTO-TV, which aired a report this week. Compounding this alleged comment, Mr. Heisey sought to discuss with Det. Sgt. Gillespie a pornography case involving a teacher at his son's school. The teacher had been charged, and the case was before the courts. This showed poor judgment, but there is no evidence Mr. Heisey tried to influence the officer or interfere with the administration of justice.
The public is right to insist that pedophilia be treated as the abhorrent crime it is. But the flip side is that its very seriousness demands that accusations not be tossed around lightly. That is the way to destroy lives. As well, if the fight against child sexual abuse is identified with a witch hunt, it may itself be compromised.
Mr. Heisey says that, far from expressing understanding for pedophiles, he was talking about the pathology of sex crimes: He can understand one type of evil, but not another.
No one felt the matter important enough to raise at the time, but now that Mr. Heisey is the board chair, and showing an interest in reforming Toronto's archaic police complaints system, the memo has taken on new life. The police board, whose members chose Mr. Heisey for the $90,000 top job and yesterday decided to hire an investigator to look into this matter and report back in three weeks, should stand up against the flimsy suspicion about pedophilia. And Mr. Heisey should apologize for his indiscretion in raising a specific case with the officer.
The Toronto Police Services board will appoint an independent lawyer to investigate whether its new chair acted improperly at a sex crimes seminar more than a year ago.
The board's vice-chair, Councillor Pam McConnell, announced the move after a three-hour meeting yesterday at city hall. The chair, veteran lawyer Alan Heisey, did not attend.
McConnell's announcement drew approval from political leaders and criticism from legal experts who said it falls short of what's needed. At least one board member also disagreed publicly with the decision.
"We need an independent lawyer to come in and investigate what was in the leaked memo, the circumstances surrounding it, as well as the discussion around that," said McConnell (Ward 28, Toronto Centre-Rosedale). "From there, we'll have a much better view of whether or not the code of conduct was or was not breached."
McConnell said the board is satisfied that police Chief Julian Fantino will "fervently" investigate the source of the leaked internal police memo at the centre of the controversy.
Surfacing last week, the 15-month-old memo alleged that Heisey, then a board member, had approached an officer and mentioned the case of a teacher at his son's school arrested on child pornography charges. The memo quoted Heisey's remarks about the case.
Heisey, who denounced the memo's statements as "deeply offensive," did not return calls from the Star yesterday.
The board has not asked Heisey to step aside or resign during the investigation - expected to last three or four weeks.
Civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby denounced the decision as "amateur night."
"How is a lawyer to judge credibility any better than they can?" he said last night. "They should make a decision and get on with it. The bigger question is, why are we letting police officers snoop on board members? What kind of atmosphere has allowed this to happen?"
Police board member Case Ootes (Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth) disagreed with the decision. He said Heisey should step down as chair during the probe, and it should go to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services (OCCOPS).
Howard Morton, former director of the province's Special Investigations Unit, favoured an investigation, but wondered whether an independent council would get co-operation from the police officers involved.
"There should be a criminal investigation either by an outside force, the Mounties or the OPP, or internally," he said. "Someone has stolen a document and leaked it with something other than good intention."
Mayor David Miller approved the probe as "appropriate."
"Mr. Heisey has a very long record of public service. There's never been a hint or a question about his integrity or his ability," he said. "For somebody with that kind of record of public service, much of it on a volunteer basis, I think he deserves a proper hearing."
The Sept. 23, 2002, memo was obtained by CFTO News late last week and made public in a report this week. It was written by Detective Sergeant Paul Gillespie of the sex crimes unit and addressed to his supervisor.
In it, Gillespie states Heisey approached him at a social event during a sex crimes conference and mentioned the case of a teacher from his son's school who was charged (and later convicted) with possessing child pornography.
Gillespie wrote that Heisey said he hoped the accused "did not go to jail." It also quoted Heisey as stating: "I understand how one could be attracted to the beautiful young body of an 8-year-old, but not children in diapers."
Heisey said earlier this week that alleged statements quoted in the memo were taken out of context, and he categorically denounced Gillespie's inference as "deeply offensive."
Former police services chair Norm Gardner said he received a copy of the memo from Fantino in September, 2002, but decided not to investigate it.
McConnell said that if the board's lawyer finds Heisey guilty of any wrongdoing, the board will hand the investigation over to OCCOPS. If there was nothing in Heisey's behaviour that breached the code of conduct, "then this was one of the best smear campaigns I've ever heard of," she said.
The controversy was a hot topic among police officers yesterday. One said he didn't think it was proper for a police officer to prepare a memo about a conversation with a board member. "It doesn't appear to have been handled fairly," the officer said.
TORONTO -- The Toronto Police Services Board is set to hold an emergency private meeting today to discuss an "explosive" police memorandum that was leaked to the media on Tuesday about Alan Heisey, its new chair.
The private document, written by Detective Sergeant Paul Gillespie, a sex-crimes investigator, outlined an alleged conversation he had with Mr. Heisey, who the detective said raised a child-pornography case involving a teacher at the school Mr. Heisey's son was attending at the time.
In the memo, Det. Sgt. Gillespie states that Mr. Heisey told him that he hoped the teacher did not go to jail, and that he could understand "how one could be attracted to the beautiful body of an 8-year-old."
Mr. Heisey said yesterday the alleged comments contained in the memo "have been taken completely out of context -- if I made them."
The veteran lawyer also denied that he inappropriately asked the police officer about the status of the child-pornography case. "I didn't make an inquiry. I expressed an opinion and asked him what he thought," he said in an interview.
The controversy erupted earlier this week when contents of the September, 2002, memo were first reported by CFTO News.
The police services board met privately last night -- at Mr. Heisey's request -- but decided after two hours to reconvene the meeting today. The decision was made to allow the board's deputy chair, Pam McConnell, an opportunity to attend.
Mr. Heisey wouldn't comment about whether he thought the leaked memo was part of a smear campaign to get rid of him. He has been a city appointee to the police services board, the seven-member civilian oversight body, since 2001. While he's only been chair of the board for about one week, he has already called for a review of the police complaints process.
"I feel terrible for my family. It's scandalous what has happened here. It's absolutely outrageous. It's pernicious and evil," he said.
Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino has ordered an investigation into how the memo was leaked to the media.
"I'm disappointed that the memo has become public and I will look into the matter and take whatever action is necessary," he said in a brief statement.
He also said that he first heard about the memo in 2002 and that he gave it to then police services chair, Norm Gardner, "to deal with as he felt necessary." Mr. Gardner was forced to step down as chair last June after it was alleged that he received a handgun from a local firearms manufacturer. A public inquiry into that matter is now under way.
According the police memo, which has been obtained by The Globe and Mail, Det. Sgt. Gillespie wrote on Sept. 23, 2002, that Mr. Heisey approached himself and Detective Gary Pincher before a banquet at the Colony Hotel four days earlier. All of the men were attending a police sex-crimes conference.
Mr. Gillespie wrote that Mr. Heisey mentioned to the men that his son attended the school where a teacher had been charged with possessing pornography and that he "hoped" the accused didn't go to jail and "he asked for my opinion."
Mr. Gillespie later wrote that he said he couldn't talk about the case and he told Mr. Heisey that "Most people we charge were usually found to be possession of child pornography involving very young children, and some in diapers."
To that, Mr. Heisey allegedly commented, "I understand how one could be attracted to the beautiful young body of an 8-year-old, but not children in diapers."
The internal memo was sent to Staff Superintendent Rocky Cleveland, who then e-mailed Mr. Fantino one day later about the alleged conversation.
"I thought I should forward the report to you as it came to me. Heisey is obviously a different sort," Mr. Cleveland wrote in his e-mail, obtained by The Globe and Mail. "He has expressed his learned views on the legalization of marijuana and now this, in my view, bent perspective on child pornography and paedophiles. What next . . . the benefits of mind expanding LSD and heroin?"
Mr. Cleveland has since retired from the police force and couldn't be reached for comment yesterday.
Mr. Gardner said that he never brought the matter to the police services board in late 2002 because of separate conversations he had with two board members, Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby and Frances Nunziata.
"There didn't seem to be any interest," he said yesterday, adding both women "shrugged off" the information contained in the memo.
Mr. Gardner said he then filed the letter and forgot about it. "It was in my files when I left the office back in June," he said, adding that he had nothing to do with the information being made public.
Both Ms. Lindsay Luby and Ms. Nunziata deny Mr. Gardner's story that they had seen the internal police document.
"I would have remembered it if I had seen this memo. It's obviously very explosive," said Ms. Lindsay Luby. She added that she is suspicious about the timing of the media leak.
Mayor David Miller didn't want to comment about the memo because he hadn't seen it, however he agreed with Mr. Fantino that there must be a probe to find out how it become public. He added it was up to the police services board to decide Mr. Heisey's fate. "I'm sure the police board will take appropriate steps. It has to be clear what was said and what was not," Mr. Miller told reporters.
It goes beyond a personal attack.
When someone leaked a confidential police memo to the media, seeking to discredit Alan Heisey, the new head of the Toronto Police Services Board, it was a blow to civilian oversight of the 5,000-member force. And it was a blow to privacy.
If information about the people who oversee the police is handled this way, what liberties are taken with files on ordinary civilians?
Chief Julian Fantino must get to the bottom of this unethical disclosure, especially its motive.
Reform-oriented Heisey is far different from Norm Gardner, the blatantly pro-police former chair. Where Gardner earned notoriety by taking advantage of free bullets from the police armoury, Heisey supported a review studying the handling of public complaints against rogue officers.
His reward: Less than a week after assuming the job of board chair, an 18-month-old memo was leaked to a Toronto television station in which an officer alleges that Heisey, in a conversation, made sympathetic statements about someone charged with collecting child pornography.
Heisey retorts that the memo doesn't accurately express his views.
It purportedly contains no allegation of criminal wrongdoing on Heisey's part. It is simply internal correspondence that may, or may not, be accurate.
But damage has been done.
And Fantino has a duty to answer questions raised by this troubling incident.
Who leaked the memo? Was it one rogue insider, or part of an orchestrated effort?
Why now? Is it meant to draw attention away from Gardner, the subject of an inquiry over accepting free bullets and a gift handgun?
And what sort of records do police keep on the board members who are supposed to govern them? Can the board members see them?
There's a reputation at stake here. It's that of the police.
It was no mistake that yesterday's "emergency" meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board was held on the 11th floor of City Hall instead of its usual venue inside the College Street cop shop.
Our municipal politicians are real big on symbolism these days and there was nothing more symbolic than the civilian overseers of local law enforcement shunning police headquarters in favour of 100 Queen St. W. to formulate a response to yet another controversy involving yet another police board chair.
This time it's newly appointed chairman Alan Heisey who's in the hot seat after an 18-month-old memorandum from a sex-crimes investigator to Chief Julian Fantino was recently leaked to the media complete with allegations the once lowly board member raised the subject of a child-pornography case involving a teacher at his son's school.
According to the memo, Mr. Heisey used the occasion of a September, 2002, sex-crimes seminar to tell Detective Sergeant Paul Gillespie he hoped the teacher would not go to jail and that he could understand "how one could be attracted to the beautiful young body of an eight-year-old, but not children in diapers."
On Wednesday, the board chairman maintained his alleged comments were taken completely out of context and noted any suggestions he tried to influence the case against the educator were "totally offensive and libelous."
Yesterday, the police services board -- minus its chairman -- met for more than three hours to decide on a response to the controversy. In the end, the four members present unanimously agreed "to retain an independent lawyer to conduct a review of the circumstances surrounding the statements made in the leaked memo."
But their private session was clearly made all the more intriguing by the fact the pornography missive came to light just as Mr. Heisey's predecessor -- Norm Gardner -- was about to sit down before the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services to answer charges he breached the city's ethical code of conduct by accepting a semi-automatic handgun as a gift from an arms manufacturer. It also came to light during the inquiry that Mr. Gardner helped himself to thousands of free bullets from the local constabulary's munitions depot.
That probe concluded yesterday with the commission reserving its decision. By the time it comes down, the former councillor with close ties to former mayor Mel Lastman may well have been interviewed by the police board's investigator to help explain why nothing came of the sex crimes memo before now, when it turns out the former chair had received a copy from Chief Fantino soon after it was written by Det. Sgt. Gillespie. Mr. Gardner has claimed he passed the information on to a pair of councillors who sat on the board at the time. But both Gloria Lindsay Luby and Frances Nunziata have denied ever seeing the communication.
This is all a bit much for Councillor Pam McConnell, who was recently chosen as vice-chairwoman of the police services board.
"The timing [of the leak] is very suspicious, because, of course, we have currently got two [board] issues on the front page," she said. "One is the conduct of the current chair of the board and the other one, in a more public arena, is the former chair of the board.
"If, in fact, there is anything untoward about Mr. Heisey's behaviour, then we will put it to a public inquiry," Ms. McConnell stated. "If there is not, this is one of the best smear campaigns I've ever heard of."
The councillor said Chief Fantino has been "fervent" with assurances he'll find out who leaked the memo. And she also expressed concerns about officers keeping tabs on individual police services board members who are their supposed civilian superiors.
"I think it's inappropriate," Ms. McConnell said.
That's a long-held opinion she shares with many councillors regarding board meetings being held at police headquarters.
"Certainly, it has been my intention, more and more, that we would get out of police headquarters and come to the centre of our democracy, which is City Hall," Ms. McConnell said.
Yesterday was a good start.
Alan Heisey says his disturbing comments about pedophilia "have been taken completely out of context - if I made them."
I challenge anyone to make sense of that remark.
The new police services board chair either made the comments, in which case he should apologize for uttering such stupidities, which he likely didn't mean in the way they were absorbed.
Or he didn't make them, so obviously they couldn't be taken out of context, and he's the one owed an apology.
In the interim, with the board now appointing an independent lawyer to investigate the matter, Heisey should voluntarily step aside.
In this respect, his situation is not so very different from that of his similarly embattled predecessor, Norm Gardner, who obstinately resisted doing the proper thing amidst character-damning scandal - in his case accepting a discounted firearm from a gun manufacturer and scoring loads of free ammo from the police department.
Gardner ultimately did stand down, as his case was turned over to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services, which this past week convened a public inquiry to determine whether any misconduct occurred.
I doubt whether Heisey's case will ever reach the point of referral to OCCOPs.
The reconstituted board, judging by remarks made in recent days, is sounding more defensive and aggrieved, on Heisey's behalf, than dismayed about what the man may have said, even if he said it.
Hence the emphasis on the timing and motivation of an internal police memo leaked on Wednesday to CFTO.
So much paranoia sweeping through the halls of police governance.
"How come this only happens to board members who are seen as liberal?" asks Laura Rowe, who was herself the subject of internal police investigations when she was appointed to the board - a lesbian mother and community activist who instantly raised hackles, although she grew to earn respect from cops. (She's no longer on the board.)
"The worst thing you can say about someone is that they have a warped sexual attitude towards children," Rowe continues. "How is Heisey supposed to defend himself against that?"
Actually, he can, though he's not done a very good job of it so far.
Heisey did not attend Thursday's board meeting, in which the decision was made to turn the matter over to a lawyer for review. Perhaps he was asked to stay away. But he thereby missed an opportunity to explain himself to his board colleagues and to directly answer pertinent questions.
It's little wonder the officer was disturbed enough by the encounter that he wrote it down and passed it on
I suspect, in the original conversation with Detective Sergeant Paul Gillespie, a member of the Toronto police sex-crimes unit, Heisey might have been referring to the degree of vulnerability in sexually exploited children - babies versus young boys, and how could even the sexually deranged possibly look upon an infant with lust. There are shadings of wrongdoing and degrees of criminality - murderer versus serial murderer in Heisey's own clumsy analogy.
Such a distinction would likely have found little favour with Gillespie, given his job. Little wonder he was disturbed enough by the encounter that he wrote it down and passed it on. This, it should be noted, was done immediately afterwards and the police officer's recollections would be much fresher at the time than Heisey's are now.
However, armed with at least that much basic information - Heisey's first-hand account of the conversation and whatever point he was actually trying to make - the board members might then have been able to make up their own minds.
In an investigation that will clearly come down to he said/he said, the central issue will be one of credibility and character. An investigating lawyer is no more fit to judge that than the board members themselves.
Contrary to the published views expressed by some of Heisey's boosters - and those with a pre-existing axe to grind against Toronto police - the critical issue is not the internal memo that Gillespie prepared and how, or why, it came to be leaked.
What's at issue is whether there was justification for Gillespie to be so appalled by what Heisey said - allegedly drawing some kind of esthetic or intellectual distinction between depictions of 8-year-old boys and babies in diapers.
And there is also the ancillary matter of Heisey having raised a case before the courts - a teacher from his son's school arrested on child-pornography charges - with a police officer whose department was investigating the case.
Gillespie most assuredly did not "snoop" on anyone. Heisey, according to the memo, raised the subject with him in the hospitality suite of a convention. A cop in his situation, hearing what he believed he heard, would have been understandably dumbfounded. It's not in the least bit peculiar that he wrote a memo about the exchange and passed it on. In the Julian Fantino era, everything gets written down.
Whatever his other flaws, Chief Fantino is among the most morally exacting of men. Had he believed there was anything genuinely objectionable or worrisome about Heisey's remarks, he would have ordered a further investigation. Instead, he merely passed the memo on to Gardner, to deal with as he saw appropriate. And Gardner was not so concerned that he formally brought the memo to the board's attention, simply - he says - discussing it with a couple of other members, who have no memory of such conversations.
Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, an offensive remark can be in the ear of the listener. Acutely sensitive to the issue of child pornography, Gillespie may have heard one thing, while Heisey thought he was saying something else.
But beyond repeatedly denouncing as "deeply offensive" the memo that, in his view, portrayed him as even slightly sympathetic to child pornographers, Heisey has not yet, in my estimation, clarified his remarks. Because, believe me, there are a lot of people out there who genuinely hold the view that sex with young boys is okay, not so repugnant, as if a child can ever form sexual consent.
The memo is offensive only if it was wrong, although what Gillespie might interpret as disgracefully soft on porn might not raise eyebrows in other, more hedonistic, circles.
It is not offensive because it surfaced now, within a week of Heisey taking over as chair of the police board.
A smear campaign driven by a leaked memo is reprehensible. The motives behind the leak are debatable.
But that doesn't necessarily make Gillespie wrong, for what he felt in his bones 15 months ago. Or make Heisey right, about how victimized he feels now.