May 12, 2004
Claim says city officers showed bias in dealing with custody battle
By Greg Mcarthur,
An RCMP officer is suing Ottawa police, alleging the force wanted to send a highly trained tactical team to arrest him on charges sparked by his ex-wife, an Ottawa police officer. The charges were subsequently dropped by the Crown.
It started two years ago, when the Mountie's ex-wife lied about the Mountie assaulting her and their then 10-year-old son, a recently filed statement of claim alleges. The couple had been embroiled in a custody battle, a feud that could have pitted one police force against the other.
The Citizen has not named the Mountie, 39, or his ex-wife to protect the identity of their three children. None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court and a statement of defence has not been filed. This story is based on the statement of claim and court transcripts.
On Oct. 9, 2002, Sgt. Glenn Griffith, one of the Ottawa police officers investigating the alleged assault, wanted to deploy the tactical team to an RCMP office to arrest the Mountie, who is himself a tactical specialist, the statement of claim alleges.
But an RCMP supervisor, who was contacted by Sgt. Griffith, persuaded the Ottawa investigator not to send the elite officers, the document states.
The Mountie turned himself in at the Ottawa police Elgin Street headquarters and was charged with two counts of assault and two counts of intimidation based on his ex-wife's allegations.
Now, more than a year later, after all criminal charges against the Mountie have been dropped and a family court judge has questioned the "reliability" of a police report, the Mountie claims he was wrongfully arrested and says the investigation was biased.
The custody dispute turned into a criminal investigation on Oct. 7, 2002, when the ex-wife complained to a superior, kickstarting the investigation.
She later alleged that on Oct. 4, the Mountie had come to pick up the three children from her home. The 10-year-old boy cried and didn't want to leave. The Mountie grabbed the boy by the shoulder, causing him to bruise, and pulled him out the door, she alleged.
She also told police that on Oct. 7, when the Mountie returned to pick up the children again, he backed his ex-wife against a wall in front of her home and cocked his fist.
But on Oct. 21, 2003, the first day of trial, the Mountie's lawyer, Bill Carroll, repeatedly asked her why there were differences between her statement to police and her version in court.
The next day, Crown Attorney Robert Pelletier dropped the charges stemming from the alleged fist cocking.
"In light of the evidence ... I don't feel there's a reasonable prospect of conviction," Mr. Pelletier told the courtroom.
That same day, the boy testified that the Mountie had held his hand -- not his shoulder -- and pulled him out the door.
"Yeah, that's the only thing that happened that day," the boy told a judge.
After the boy's testimony, Mr. Pelletier dropped the remaining charges.
Three months later in a custody hearing, family court Judge M. Linhares de Sousa, called a police report from the investigation "troubling from the point of view of balance and hence, reliability," according to the statement of claim.
The statement of claim goes on to allege that Ottawa investigators only interviewed witnesses who were close to the ex-wife. Police didn't speak to the Mountie's new wife, who was present for both alleged assaults.
When the Mountie turned himself in, Sgt. Griffith wrote in his notes
that the Mountie was being "arrogant." Investigators included details about the Mountie and his ex-wife's relationship on the charge sheet, which "are never contained in any criminal charge sheet," the statement of claim alleges.
Had the ex-wife not been "a colleague of the investigating officers, the Plaintiff would never have been arrested and charged in the first place," the document states.
The Ottawa police services board, Sgt. Griffith, Chief Vince Bevan and Sgt. Lyse Fournier, who also investigated, are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Sgt. Griffith said he will seek legal advice before commenting. Sgt. Fournier and Chief Bevan didn't return repeated phone calls.
The ex-wife, who works at the force's west-end Greenbank Road station, said she wasn't aware of the lawsuit and declined comment.
"I'm not prepared to sit there and admit or deny or do anything with the paper whatsoever until I speak with my people to find out what this is about," she said.
According to the statement of claim, Ottawa police pressured the RCMP into suspending the Mountie, a paid suspension that lasted about one year.
He was reinstated five days after the charges were dropped.
Ottawa police requested the involvement of the Children's Aid Society, which sought to restrict the Mountie from seeing his children, the statement of claim alleges.
The Mountie didn't see his children for seven months and when he was allowed to visit them, the visits were supervised, the document states.
He is still unable to spend time with his eldest son.
The Mountie spoke briefly to the Citizen, and said he believes Ottawa police may have been heavy-handed because of the rivalry between the police forces. He also said he was verbally abused in the jail cell, where he waited for about eight hours.
"All I ever cared about was my job and my kids," the Mountie told The Citizen. "Both of them were taken away and Ottawa city police were part
© The Ottawa Citizen 2004