Toronto police officer charged with sexual assault

The Toronto police officer charged with sexual assault by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit was once celebrated by the service as a hero.

Sgt. Christopher Heard faces one charge of sexual assault in connection with an incident that occurred on Sept. 24, 2015, in Toronto’s Entertainment District.

Sgt. Christopher Heard.
Sgt. Christopher Heard.  (Facebook image)
According to the SIU, a police officer picked up a 27-year-old woman near Wellington St. and Blue Jays Way around 1 a.m. and drove her to her home in his police vehicle.

The woman alleges she was sexually assaulted on the way.

Following an investigation, SIU director Tony Loparco concluded there were “reasonable grounds to believe the officer committed the criminal offence,” according to an SIU statement released Wednesday.

A post on the Toronto Police Services website, shared on the TPS Facebook page, describes an “off-duty water rescue” performed by Heard in 2012.

The posts recount how the sergeant, who was on vacation at Sharbot Lake Provincial Park, was sitting on the beach when he heard cries for help.

There was no lifeguard at the beach, so Heard, who is described as a member of the mounted unit, ran into the water and grabbed a man who was unable to swim and had dropped below the surface.

With the help of another nearby swimmer and a lifejacket, the man was brought safely to shore.

“The 23-year police veteran doesn’t consider the rescue heroic, but was glad he could recognize the problem quickly and lend his help,” says the post.

According to the 2015 Toronto Police salary disclosures, Heard earned $144,552.72 in 2014.

Sexual assault is not a common charge laid against police officers in Ontario. A spokesperson for the SIU said four officers across the province were charged with sexual assault in 2015.

Heard is scheduled to appear in court on April 14.

Withfiles from Peter Goffin