The former head of the Toronto police force's sexual assault squad has been accused in a lawsuit of sexual misconduct involving three women under his command.
In an extraordinary $8 million civil suit filed against top police brass, Detective David Girdlestone claims senior officers "conspired" against him after he brought allegations of sexual misconduct in 1996 against Staff Inspector Brian Duff, the former commander of the elite sexual assault squad.
In the 21-page statement of claim, Girdlestone alleges several senior officers attempted to discredit him and get him to resign when he tried to have the allegations of sexual misconduct against Duff and one other officer properly investigated.
The former sex assault squad officer with 23 years on the force also alleges the police hierarchy wanted to delay his complaint from being made public until after the "Jane Doe" civil trial was over.
The allegations contained in the statement of claim filed April 6 have yet to be proved in court.
Last August, a woman known only as Jane Doe won $220,000 and made legal history by successfully suing the Toronto force for systemic sexual discrimination.
Doe argued, and the court agreed, that officers had used her as human bait to catch a serial rapist in the summer of 1986 in the Church and Wellesley Sts. neighbourhood.
Girdlestone contends that, had his allegations been made public during the civil trial, they would have had a "serious impact on the credibility of officers involved in the 'Jane Doe' trial."
One of the lead officers named in the Doe civil suit, Inspector Kim Derry, is also a defendant in Girdlestone's lawsuit.
The others who have been named as defendants in the civil action are Deputy Chiefs Michael Boyd and Joe Hunter, Staff Inspector Ken Cenzura, Detective Sergeant John Brown, and a Toronto doctor, who was being retained by the service at the time.
A police spokesperson said yesterday that the force doesn't comment on civil actions once they have been filed in court.
Calls to Girdlestone, who now works in the force's special investigations service unit, were not returned to The Star.
Staff Inspector Duff, who is currently working out of 32 Division in the city's north-end, said yesterday he was not aware of the civil suit and said he couldn't comment when asked about the allegations against him in it.
While Girdlestone is the only one named as a plaintiff in the case, he is not alone in his legal fight against police brass. According to sources, the lawsuit is being bankrolled by the powerful Toronto police union.
Just last year, the 7,000-member union filed a massive complaint with the province's chief police watchdog, claiming there are two systems of discipline for the force.
The union charged that rank-and-file officers are constantly under a microscope by police brass, while allegations involving senior command rarely result in disciplinary action.
Allegations contained in Girdlestone's lawsuit were passed on to the province last year as part of the police union's complaint against the brass, sources said.
In his claim, Girdlestone said he became the target of a smear campaign after he and four other officers reported several incidents of sexual misconduct and harassment on the job back on Apr. 4, 1996.
Girdlestone claims the incidents involved three female employees working in the sexual assault squad and that the misconduct was "observed to be committed by Staff Inspector Brian Duff," the suit alleges.
At the time, Duff was the boss of the sexual assault squad.
According to the lawsuit, Girdlestone reported the allegations directly to Deputy Chief Boyd, who was the senior officer in charge of detective support command and Duff's boss.
Girdlestone claims that even though he notified Boyd directly of the allegations, Duff remained as head of the unit for "an additional few weeks and was then removed from his position."
The officer also alleges that Brown, who was Girdlestone's immediate supervisor at the time, was involved in an incident where he "acted sexually inappropriately and harassed a female officer."
Girdlestone said he went to Cenzura - who had replaced Duff as the head of the sexual assault squad - about the allegation involving Brown.
The female officer refused to proceed against Brown "for fear of reprisal that would affect her professional career and future," the lawsuit states.
The three female employees Girdlestone claimed were sexually harassed by Duff were instructed by Brown not to report their complaints, the suit claims.
Girdlestone said he was transferred from the sexual assault squad on Apr. 28, 1997 by Cenzura.
Around May 6, 1997, Girdlestone wrote to Boyd to express his concerns about the lack of progress in investigating the sexual misconduct claims he had first made a year earlier.
At that point, Girdlestone claims, then Detective-Sergeant Derry was assigned by Boyd to investigate his complaints.
"Upon hearing the plaintiff's story, Derry offered a resolution that would in effect, 'sweep the matter under the carpet,' " the lawsuit states.
When Girdlestone refused to abandon the complaints, Cenzura seized his weapon, claiming he was no longer fit to carry it, the suit alleges.
The lawsuit alleges that Cenzura, Derry, Brown and a former doctor for the force "conspired and have intentionally engaged in a campaign to undermine" Girdlestone when they took away his gun and "disseminated information that the Plaintiff was not mentally fit" to carry it.
The firearm was later returned to the officer.
The suit also names deputy chief Hunter as a defendant because he "intentionally delayed" Girdlestone's complaint, the suit alleges.