DNA database hailed after arrest
Suspect arrested in teen's rape
Chief Fantino demands expanded collection of samples


Aug. 9, 2004.

Todd Bryce Stoute might never have been arrested for the brutal, random sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl if it weren't for a spot of saliva on a single Q-tip.

The suspect is accused of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and then throwing the teen into a garbage dumpster on June 26.

Stoute was arrested in his Aurora home late Friday night.

Police are still searching for an accomplice, a man known as Mike or Mikey.

A judge ordered the accused to provide a DNA sample after an earlier conviction for robbery. The sample was registered in the national DNA databank a week after the sexual attack.

Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino said this case is evidence that the DNA bank works and he's using it to push his case that the bank should be dramatically expanded.

When the national DNA databank opened in 2000, judges could order defendants found guilty of serious crimes to provide DNA samples.

But Fantino calls that a "bureaucratic, long and involved process."

He wants people swabbed for DNA as soon as they are arrested and fingerprinted.

"It's not like drawing a pint of blood. It's even less intrusive, I feel, than taking fingerprints," Fantino said yesterday.

"I just don't understand why our lawmakers would not appreciate the importance of this science in terms of enhancing public safety."

In the mid-90s, when the federal government was discussing a DNA bank, police associations pushed for collection at the arrest stage.

But because of privacy concerns and fears that a bank of personal genetic information was vulnerable to misuse, the legislation that passed was more restrictive.

In Canada, Fantino said, "we're overly concerned about intruding into people's individual rights. What I'm suggesting and advocating is that we balance that out with the rights of the victims and potential victims.

"Other countries have done it, I don't see why Canada should be so laid back."

When the Canadian legislation was drafted, "they decided that if the state was going to collect that kind of information, it needed to be on conviction and with judicial approval," said Alex Swann spokesperson for Anne McLellan, minister of public safety and emergency preparedness.

The government did expand the legislation to allow DNA to be taken from criminals who are in prison for serious offences because police said it would help solve crimes, Swann said.

But the government is not currently considering changes to DNA collection, Swann said.

The United Kingdom and some European countries and American states collect DNA from people when they are arrested for a range of crimes.

Each year, the Toronto police get about 100 matches for sex crimes using the DNA bank, most leading to arrests, Staff Inspector Bruce Smollet said.

But DNA also eliminates those who are innocent, Fantino pointed out.

Stoute, who is charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and forcible confinement, came to court yesterday and was remanded in custody.


with files from William Lin



Comment:  Fantino expects all to believe that the police will always act properly and that we can always "trust the police" not to abuse their powers.

Fantino's plan to dna test every person arrested would lead to large scale abuses solely to arrest people not for any crime but purely for the purpose of obtaining a DNA sample.

Fantino's is an intelligent man and experienced police chief with unlimited legal advice available on tap. His plan for DNA testing of suspects fails to consider that the plan would probably be abused on a large scale basis and open up a Pandora's box of new ways for fabrication of evidence, malicious prosecutions and abuse of process.

Fantino's plan is fatally flawed. DNA tests should not be involuntarily obtained absent a court order obtained after a hearing to balance the rights of the accused and the benefit to society.