No more ‘rookie-buy nights,’ say police brass after sex assault verdict
Although the three Toronto police officers were acquitted in the alleged sexual assault of a colleague, they may still face disciplinary consequences.
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In the wake of the acquittal of three Toronto cops accused of sexually assaulting a colleague during an alcohol-fuelled outing known as “Rookie-Buy Night,” police brass are ordering an end to such initiation rituals.
According to a police source, on Friday an internal memo was issued by two staff sergeants in charge of police divisions and sent to unit commanders throughout the city, stating such rites of passage must come to an end, effective immediately.
The memo directed these senior officers to inform their staff that events which may feature both disorderly behaviour, such as the excessive consumption of alcohol, and expectations that new recruits pay for others, are now prohibited.
The memo stated that, even when off duty, officers must adhere to the Toronto Police Service’s core values, which include having integrity, defined by the force as being honourable, trustworthy, and striving to do what is right.
According to the memo, Chief Mark Saunders has said the initiation rituals described in the recent court ruling by Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy are not consistent with Toronto’s policing culture.
This week, a judge acquitted three Toronto police officers in the alleged sexual assault of a parking enforcement officer who said she was too intoxicated to consent. The incident happened in January 2015 after a “rookie buy night” with officers from 51 division.
Although Molloy said she couldn’t find Joshua Cabero, Leslie Nyznik and Sameer Kara guilty, citing contradictory evidence and flawed recollections from the complainant, the officers may still face disciplinary consequences.
All three were suspended with pay after they were charged in Feb. 2015. Although Saunders hadn’t changed that status as of Wednesday, he is reviewing their conduct , police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray told the Star earlier this week.
“The chief will be directing his senior staff that, as part of our ongoing culture change, there is no longer a place for such rituals,” Gray added.
The sexual assault case stemmed from an incident that happened inside a downtown hotel room after a night of heavy drinking. During the trial, the complainant alleged that the officers assaulted her sexually, penetrating her orally and vaginally as she drifted in and out of consciousness.
Nyznik, the only of the three officers to testify, said the complainant initiated most of what took place and that the group sex was consensual.
Toxicology results and video of the group shortly before the assault was alleged to have taken place conflicted with the complainant’s testimony about her level of intoxication. Molloy said some of Nyznik’s account “did not ring true,” but that it was “simply not safe to convict.”
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