Dave Brubaker, ex-Canadian gymnastics coach, acquitted of sex-related charges

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Former Canadian Olympic women’s gymnastics coach Dave Brubaker was found not guilty today of two sex assault charges levelled by a former athlete.

Brubaker had pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and sexual exploitation relating to the alleged incidents between 2000 and 2007.

Justice Deborah Austin, in delivering her decision inside a Sarnia, Ont., courtroom on Wednesday, gave a scathing critique of how the lead officer handled the investigation.

The judge wondered about the « tainting of evidence » after explaining a scenario by which a police officer shared a written Brubaker apology with the complainant and others.

Austin also made it clear in her analysis that there were serious problems with the lead officer and complainant having a familiar relationship, and the fact it was disclosed late in the trial.

Gymnastics Canada launching internal probe

In a statement, Gymnastics Canada announced it would conduct an internal investigation in accordance with its Code of Ethics and Conduct and Discipline policies.
 
« Gymnastics Canada acknowledges, understands, and remains committed to our responsibility in creating and preserving gymnastics environments that ensure positive, healthy, and fulfilling experiences for all of our participants, » read the statement. « Together with our provincial and territorial partners and member clubs, we are continuing to implement a safe sport framework for gymnastics across the country.

« This framework includes tools to assist parents and other responsible adults to identify potentially unsafe situations and take proactive steps to ensure the safety of the athletes; providing confidential channels for athletes to communicate concerns with respect to their safety and well-being without risk of reprisals; and utilizing the appropriate enforcement mechanisms for addressing individuals who breach safe sport policies.
 
« We remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure that inappropriate and harmful conduct is dealt with immediately and effectively. Gymnastics Canada considers the safety and well-being of all participants as our top priority. »

Complainant initiated kisses, Brubaker said

In the case involving Brubaker, the national women’s coach at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, the complainant told the court that from the time she was 12, he would commonly greet her with a kiss on the lips.

Brubaker didn’t deny this.

« I think it was just out of habit … that she started to kiss me, » Brubaker said, insisting the kisses were innocent. « I don’t come from a kissy family, so to me it’s just part of the gymnast culture. It’s not something I need as a man. »

Brubaker told the court the complainant initiated the kisses after a competition in Europe.

Brubaker’s wife Liz, who worked alongside her husband, testified she found nothing odd about the kisses, but acknowledged her husband kissed other students only on the cheek.

Brubaker’s wife suspended

Last month, Gymnastics Canada suspended Liz Brubaker, who isn’t facing criminal charges, from her coaching job with the Bluewater Gymnastics Club in Sarnia.

In a statement, Gymnastics Canada said it suspended her after receiving « a number of written formal complaints… that outlined alleged violations of Gymnastics Canada’s ethics and code of conduct policies over an extended period of time a number of years ago. »

The complainant in her husband’s case is now in her 30s, and cannot be named under a publication ban. She also alleged Dave Brubaker touched her inappropriately while treating her for persistent pain and soreness.

Brubaker, the women’s national team director at last year’s world championships in Montreal, also vehemently denied this. But at the same time, an expert witness told the court that treatment, often in sensitive areas, is an integral and necessary part of maintaining the body of an elite gymnast.

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‘I’m in shock’: Toronto police rule out charges after 30 women accuse former RCMP doctor of sexual assault

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Toronto police sex crimes investigators say there are « no grounds » to lay criminal charges against a former RCMP doctor. That’s despite 30 women alleging they were sexually assaulted during mandatory medical exams when hired by the police force in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

« The Toronto Police Service does not dispute that these women felt (and continue to feel) violated, » said police spokesperson Meaghan Gray in an email Tuesday. However, she said investigators reviewed medical standards at the time and determined there is a lack of evidence « to prove there was a sexual purpose » to the doctor’s exams.

« I think it’s a lot of bullshit. I’m in shock, » said Vicki Gravelle, a 911 dispatcher for a regional police force in Ontario, no longer with the RCMP.

Gravelle and two others came forward to CBC News last month, detailing sexual assault allegations against former RCMP doctor John A. Macdougall, saying he inappropriately pinched nipples, conducted invasive vaginal exams without gloves, caressed their legs and pushed his pelvis against their naked backsides as they were told to bend forward during « spinal exams. »

Gravelle and two others came forward to CBC News last month, detailing sexual assault allegations against former RCMP doctor John A. Macdougall. (Rachel Houlihan/CBC)

The women complained to the RCMP, Toronto police and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario at the time, but their concerns went nowhere.

In early 2018, Toronto police reopened their investigation after dozens of women came forward, emboldened by the #MeToo movement, alleging they too were assaulted by Macdougall.

‘No grounds’ for charges

Macdougall retired in 2001. He is now in his mid-80s and lives in a retirement home west of Toronto. According to his lawyer, Macdougall has dementia, suffered near-fatal pneumonia recently and is living with around-the clock care. His family has declined to comment.

But in 1991, when the three women first complained to Ontario’s medical regulator, Macdougall explained he elected to do lengthy breast exams on new recruits in an effort to teach self-examination technique. He was silent on the other allegations of unwanted touching and invasive vaginal exams.

Following the women’s complaints the RCMP banned all staff physicians from conducting gynecological exams and laid out proper breast-exam techniques.

This photo of John A. Macdougall was taken when he graduated from the University of Toronto in 1963. (University of Toronto)

Toronto police on Tuesday told CBC News that they « know that many involved in this case are angry and frustrated. » But they say they have closed the file after review of the 30 women’s statements and are « confident » in their decision not to lay charges.

« Our investigative efforts were unbiased and extended beyond these statements to include a review of documentation, consideration for case law and research into what may have been acceptable medical practice at the time, » said Gray in her statement.

« We had to determine whether or not grounds existed to prove there was a sexual purpose for the actions that took place. Without those grounds, we simply could not lay charges. … We know that many involved in this case are angry and frustrated but, pending any new information that is brought forward, we are confident in the decisions we have made. »

‘I am flabbergasted’

Sylvie Corriveau, one of the three women to complain about. Macdougall in the 1990s, says she is « disillusioned » by the Toronto police decision.

« You have 30-odd strangers stating the same thing, and the doctor’s word means more, » said Corriveau, a senior RCMP employee based in Ottawa. « Many of the victims are still serving peace officers, do their sworn statements not mean anything? »

Watch Sylvie Corriveau describe when she knew the doctor was abusing his authority:

RCMP ‘OVERLOOKED’ COMPLAINTS OF SEX ASSAULTS DURING EXAM, RECRUITS ALLEGE 1:09

She flatly rejects that Macdougall’s actions were in any way legitimate and maintains he was seeking sexual gratification during her exam.

« If the investigators did in fact state that his techniques were acceptable medical tests back then … I am flabbergasted, because they were not, » Corriveau told CBC News.

Gravelle says she can’t understand why Macdougall’s medical training has any bearing on the allegations by the 30 complainants. « I don’t understand what any of that has to do with anything. If he’s archaically been trained … it’s still inappropriate behaviour, conducted to a woman in an office, behind closed doors in secret, and still under the threat: « You do this or I’m going to have your job. »

Complaint filed against Toronto police

Helen Henderson, who received compensation last month from an RCMP class action fund for abuse victims based on her encounter with Macdougall, says she is enraged Toronto police will not lay criminal charges.

« It’s absolutely devastating after all of our efforts, » Henderson said.

She’s filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director demanding a review of the Toronto police investigation. 

Henderson says she is enraged Toronto police will not lay criminal charges against Macdougall. (Rachel Houlihan/CBC)

« They didn’t do their job, » Henderson says.

Another woman, Laurel Hodder, describes the Toronto police decision as « devastating. » She is pressing ahead with her own lawsuit against Macdougall and the RCMP. Hodder was sent to see Macdougall despite senior brass being aware of complaints against the doctor.

« It makes you feel like you don’t matter, » said Hodder.

Send tips to dave.seglins@cbc.ca or rachel.houlihan@cbc.ca  
 

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Tory Leader Andrew Scheer met with SNC chief to discuss criminal charges

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MONTREAL—Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer met with the head of SNC-Lavalin to discuss the criminal charges facing the Quebec construction giant in May 2018, the Opposition leader’s office confirms.

Scheer discussed a possible “deferred prosecution agreement” with SNC CEO Neil Bruce on May 29. SNC is pushing for a so-called “DPA” to avoid criminal charges related to fraud and corruption in its work in Libya between 2001 and 2011.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was one of a number of politicians who have met with the chief executive of SNC-Lavalin.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was one of a number of politicians who have met with the chief executive of SNC-Lavalin.  (DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO)

“Mr. Scheer met with a representative from SNC-Lavalin and was briefed on the company’s position with regards to deferred prosecution agreements,” wrote Brock Harrison, Scheer’s communications director, in an email to the Star on Saturday.

“At the time, the Liberals had added provisions on DPAs in 2018 budget documents. The meeting was one of several SNC-Lavalin sought out and held with MPs from all parties during the budget debate.”

Harrison did not respond to repeated questions Saturday and Sunday as to whether Scheer has an opinion on whether SNC should be allowed to avoid criminal trial through a DPA.

The question is more than academic. If Scheer and the Conservatives form government after the October election, they are likely to inherit the question of whether SNC-Lavalin should face its criminal charges — and be banned from federal contracts for a decade if found guilty — or be allowed to cut a deal with prosecutors and face fines and corporate reforms.

Lobbying records show Bruce also met with Dean Allison, the Conservatives’ international trade critic, twice in April 2018, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and New Democrat MP Pierre-Luc Dusseault in May 2018.

Bruce also held meetings with a bevy of senior bureaucrats, Liberal MPs, cabinet ministers, and senior officials in Justin Trudeau’s office throughout 2018.

Opposition MPs have been calling for investigations into allegations, first reported by the Globe and Mail, that members of the Prime Minister’s Office pressured former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to push for a deal for SNC-Lavalin.

Trudeau and the Liberals have denied the allegations. Wilson-Raybould, now the veterans’ affairs minister, has refused to comment.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, who chairs the Commons justice committee, said on social media that he will convene a meeting on Wednesday, where it will be decided whether hearings into the SNC-Lavalin affair, as demanded by the Conservatives and New Democrats, will go ahead. He rejected suggestions that the outcome of that meeting had already been decided. “I intend to independently determine whether Committee study of the issue will be useful for Canadians & colleagues will do same. Nobody has attempted to influence me,” he said on Twitter.

However, Liberal MPs hold the majority of seats on the committee and are expected to vote down the opposition motion.

If found guilty, SNC-Lavalin would face a 10-year prohibition from bidding on federal contracts — a potentially fatal blow to the Quebec construction giant that employs thousands across Canada.

A DPA — a tool introduced by the Liberals in 2018 based on similar models in the U.S. and U.K. — would mean the company would face potentially steep fines and corporate governance reforms, but would not lose out on billions in federal business.

Alex Boutilier is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @alexboutilier

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Trudeau denies news report that his office pressed former justice minister to drop SNC-Lavalin charges

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OTTAWA— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adamantly denied an explosive story Thursday that senior PMO officials pressed the former justice minister to seek mediation instead of pressing criminal charges against a high-profile Quebec engineering company, SNC-Lavalin.

“The allegations in the Globe story this morning are false,” Trudeau told reporters Thursday. “Neither the current nor the previous attorney-general was directed by me or anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter.”

But the statements are unlikely to quell the uproar that broke after the Globe and Mail reported Thursday that Jody Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of the job after she refused requests to direct the independent public prosecution office to negotiate a remediation agreement which would have resulted in the firm avoiding criminal liability for actions it said were taken by individual employees.

Read more:

Former SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime pleads guilty for role in hospital bribery

SNC-Lavalin blamed a teenage refugee for its poor performance. Here’s the real story

Speaking outside the House of Commons, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer rejected Trudeau’s denial as “words written by a lawyer.” He said the report brings up questions about whether officials in Trudeau’s office, and even potentially the prime minister himself, tried to influence Wilson-Raybould over the SNC-Lavelin prosecution.

“The allegations that are in the media today raise the idea that Jody Wilson-Raybould lost her job for refusing to bow to pressure from the prime minister’s office,” Scheer said, accusing the prime minister in French of “hiding something.”

“It’s up to the prime minister to come clean on this,” he said.

During his press conference earlier Thursday, Trudeau said three times in English and twice in French that no one in his PMO directed Wilson-Raybould, or her replacement David Lametti, a Quebec MP, to take “any decision whatsoever” in the SNC-Lavalin prosecution.

Asked what efforts were made to influence her decision, Trudeau said: “At no time did I or my office direct the current or previous attorney general to make any particular decision in this matter.”

Trudeau side-stepped a direct answer to another question about the the nature of discussions between his office and Wilson-Raybold, saying, “We have a tremendous positive working relationship with all members of our cabinet.”

Asked how Canadians can believe the Liberal government’s claims of never politicizing the judicial system — which it has repeated in the Meng Wanzhou extradition case and to questions about the trial of vice-admiral Mark Norman who is charged with leaking cabinet secrets — Trudeau insisted that “we have been consistent that Canada is a country of rule of law that respects the independent judiciary and always will.”

“It’s something we have stood up for on the international stage, it’s also something we ensure on the domestic stage.”

According to the report, SNC-Lavalin sought to avoid criminal fraud and corruption charges based on allegations it paid millions in bribes to win government business in Libya between 2001 and 2011.

Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould declined comment through a spokesman after the story broke Thursday.

The engineering company claims the executives responsible have left the company and it has since overhauled its ethics and compliance rules. This past week, the company’s former CEO Pierre Duhaime was sentenced to house arrest over a separate bribery scandal tied to the construction of a Montreal hospital. Former SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime pleaded guilty and will serve 20 months of house arrest.

The Liberal government changed the law last year to what allow “deferred prosecution agreements” and allow remediation agreements to be reached.

In June, Conservative MP Dan Albas slammed it saying the change “gives, effectively, large corporations a ‘get out of jail’card” for offences such as money-laundering.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau defended the move as a way to protect jobs and the economy, and noted that it is similar to the approach taken by the United States and the United Kingdom.

“We recognize that when organizations are found to be offside with the laws, they should be held to account, and they should be held to account for their actions in a way that ensures we protect Canadians,” Morneau said.

He said the revised approach was a “prudent way to ensure that we have companies pay the price for any wrongdoing in a way that allows us to ensure that our economy continues to be successful and that the people who are legitimately responsible for the bad behaviour pay a price, as opposed to people who aren’t, such as people who are unwittingly employed by firms that have had that bad behaviour.”

Liberal MP Mark Miller, whose riding encompasses the Quebec engineering and construction giant’s headquarters, defended the PMO officials as well as the former justice minister on Thursday after the story broke. “I’m confident that the Prime Minister’s office at all times acted legally and ethically,” he said, adding it was never discussed in Quebec caucus.

Miller also called Wilson-Raybould “one of the most principled and ethical people I’ve met in the last three years.”

When Trudeau gathered with his cabinet ministers for a retreat in Sherbrooke, Que., last month, he sidestepped questions about why Wilson-Raybould was removed as justice minister.

“Jody Wilson-Raybould has been a hard-working minister and has been a great person. We have given her a very important job that I know she is going to do well,” Trudeau said.

Asked specifically whether she was moved for “speaking truth to power” too often, Trudeau would only say, “we have a great team of very strong ministers who have stepped up time and time again to serve this country.”

That’s the very language Wilson-Raybould used in a lengthy letter penned after the shuffle that laid out her achievements as justice minister.

In that letter, she said the role of attorney general “demands a measure of principled independence.

“It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence,” she wrote.

“As such, it has always been my view that the Attorney General of Canada must be non-partisan, more transparent in the principles that are the basis of decisions, and, in this respect, always willing to speak truth to power. This is how I served throughout my tenure in that role,” she said.

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga

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Toronto officer facing misconduct charges over 2016 McArthur choking arrest asks for independent judge

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A Toronto police officer facing professional misconduct charges in connection to the investigation into serial killer Bruce McArthur is requesting an independent judge hear the case.

In a brief hearing Tuesday morning at Toronto police headquarters, the disciplinary tribunal heard the case of Sgt. Paul Gauthier, who is charged with neglect of duty and insubordination in connection to the McArthur investigation.

Gauthier’s charge stems from a 2016 encounter between the serial killer and Toronto police that came after a man reported McArthur had attempted to strangle him during a sexual encounter. McArthur was arrested but let go with no charges.

Gauthier, a former member of the force’s sex crime unit, was not present at the tribunal. He was represented by Toronto lawyer Lawrence Gridin, who formally requested an independent adjudicator.

“You have no independence from the chief of police,” Gridin told the hearing officer, Toronto police Insp. Richard Hegedus.

Gridin had begun discussing how, in December 2017, police chief Mark Saunders held a press conference denying the existence of a serial killer at work in Toronto’s Gay Village.

“We now know, because this matter’s up in court, and there’s been an agreed statement of facts files, details have come out… that the information at the press conference was not correct.”

But Gridin was interrupted by Toronto police prosecutor Alexandra Ciobotaru, who said Gridin’s comments were not what she was expecting and that initial comments should only pertain to the behaviour of the officer in question.

Gridin replied that he was providing the information to show justification for an independent adjudicator, not a Toronto police hearing officer chosen by Saunders.

Outside the tribunal, the lawyer told reporters that he was confident the evidence will show that the work done by Gauthier contributed to the identification of McArthur as a serial killer, rather than detracted from it.

He stressed that the voices of people giving their victim impact statements as part of McArthur’s sentencing hearings should be heard today, “not mine.”

Gauthier’s matter was scheduled to be heard again later this month.

McArthur went on to kill two other men after the 2016 incident: Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman, both murdered in 2017.

New details about the incident were revealed in Ontario Superior Court Monday during McArthur’s ongoing sentencing hearing. The killer had earlier pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder.

According to a summary of the facts read out in court, the encounter occurred on June 20, 2016, when a victim reported McArthur showed up at his place of work and asked him to meet that evening in his van in a parking lot.

The man did so and reported finding McArthur had removed the seat behind the driver’s seat so that there was room to lie down, revealing a plastic sheet on the floor of the van and a fur coat on top of that.

McArthur asked the victim to lie on the coat and instructed him to put an arm behind his back. Then, “with a look of determination on his face,” he “grabbed the victim’s throat and started strangling him,” Crown lawyer Michael Cantlon said in court Monday.

“What do you want from me,” the victim asked, according to the statement of facts. McArthur did not respond and “continued squeezing the larynx” of the victim, who was unable to swallow properly for a week, Cantlon said.

The victim managed to roll away and escaped the van. He later called 911.

McArthur went to the police station on his own and was arrested, but gave an exculpatory statement, court heard.

“An officer released Mr. McArthur without charges, believing his statement to be credible,” Cantlon said.

In a statement last week, Gauthier’s lawyer said the decision not to charge McArthur for the 2016 incident “was made in conjunction” with Gauthier’s supervisor “and based on the information available at the time.”

“Gauthier conducted a proper investigation and fully documented the arrest of McArthur so that the information was available to all other investigators,” said lawyer Lawrence Gridin.

“McArthur’s monstrous nature was difficult to uncover because he led a life of extreme deception, not because of anything to do with the 2016 arrest … Gauthier has great sympathy for the victims and the community.”

According to police tribunal documents, Gauthier was previously charged with two counts of professional misconduct while he was with the sex crimes unit.

Those charges, which are unrelated to the McArthur case, were ultimately dropped and the matter was dealt with internally.

The police document that outlined the earlier allegations against Gauthier stated that, beginning in July 2011, Gauthier was working with the sex crimes unit when he was investigating a case where he had reasonable and probable grounds to arrest the suspect. Specifically, Gauthier had DNA evidence identifying the alleged perpetrator through a positive link to an offender in the National DNA databank.

But the suspect was never arrested. Five years later, Peel Regional Police arrested the same man for unrelated sexual offences. During the Peel police investigation, it was determined that “the information originally received in 2011, by (Gauthier), was never acted on,” according to police documents.

According to the police document, Gauthier “failed to ensure that a thorough investigation was conducted”; “failed to ensure” the DNA link was acted upon; and “failed to ensure” that the measures were in place for the apprehension of the suspect.

“In so doing, you committed misconduct, in that you did, without lawful excuse, neglect or omit to promptly and diligently perform a duty, as a member of the police force of which you are a member.”

McArthur pleaded guilty earlier this week to eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Kinsman, Esen, Lisowick, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam.

With Star files

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

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U.S. expected to announce criminal charges related to Huawei, national security

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VANCOUVER—The United States Department of Justice is expected to announce criminal charges with regard to national security, Chinese telecom Huawei and the pending extradition of its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.

The department says its announcement, by acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker and others, will be made at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

The announcement is expected to involve senior officials including Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, FBI director Christopher Wray, U.S. attorney Richard P. Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York, among others.

It is expected to involve law-enforcement action relating to China. Notably, Donoghue is the U.S. attorney closely involved in communications to Canada on Meng’s extradition proceedings.

Meng is alleged to have given a PowerPoint presentation to an HSBC executive in 2013. This presentation is at the centre of fraud allegations against Meng and claims the Chinese tech giant Huawei had direct business dealings with Iran’s government.

The PowerPoint is key to U.S. allegations that Meng committed fraud by telling American financial institutions that Huawei was compliant with international sanctions against Iran. The presentation became a focal point in the B.C. Supreme Court during Meng’s bail hearing, which followed her Dec. 1 arrest at Vancouver’s airport at the request of U.S. authorities.

More to come

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Snowmobiler faces impaired driving charges after falling into Chemong Lake – Peterborough

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A snowmobiler is facing charges after falling into open water while allegedly impaired.

The incident happened on Chemong Lake near Kelly Boulevard in Bridgenorth, Ont., around 9:15 p.m. Saturday.

OPP say the man was out with a group of other snowmobilers when he went into the water.

READ MORE: 2 snowmobilers found dead in Jack Lake, south of Apsley: Peterborough OPP

Police say the other people in the group helped the man to safety and took him to a home on Pope Drive.

Peterborough paramedics transported the man to hospital for treatment of possible hypothermia.

The snowmobiler has been charged with operation of a motor vehicle while impaired with a blood alcohol concentration of 80 or more.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Toronto vintage film expert denying child-pornography charges

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For nearly three decades, vintage film buffs in Toronto have filed into a makeshift theatre inside the Bathurst St. home of Reg Hartt to watch everything from uncensored Bugs Bunny cartoons to Nazi propaganda films.

Their host, an iconic film archivist, writer and alternative movie house operator with an international reputation, is now facing child pornography charges stemming from a police search of his computer in May. Hartt, who was released on bail after two days in jail last year, has continued showing films from his home as he awaits trial.

In an interview in his 17-seat home theatre Saturday, the 72-year-old denied the charges which include two counts of possessing child pornography, two counts of accessing child pornography and one count of “making available” child pornography.

“I don’t download kiddie porn,” he said.

Det.-Sgt. Paul Krawczyk, who heads Toronto Police’s child exploitation section, confirmed to the Star Saturday that Hartt’s charges followed an undercover search warrant investigation into alleged child exploitation.

Hartt says that two months before the charges were laid in May, a man he didn’t know came to one of his film screenings. He asked to use the Wi-Fi. Hartt says he provided him with access.

“That was March 18,” he says. “When the police came and charged me they said that’s when the images were downloaded. It wasn’t me doing it.”

Hartt’s lawyer, Mitch Engel, says his client has a strong defence.

“He shows movies from his home. It’s a situation where his computers are accessible to anyone who views his films.”

Police seized all the devices in Hartt’s house when they arrested him last May and found 250 images “that could be found in pornography museums around the world or reputable bookstores around the world,” Hartt says.

Hartt’s bail conditions say he cannot contact or communicate with anyone under 16 years of age unless accompanied by his “surety,” he cannot attend a public park or public swimming area, possess or use computers or devices with internet access unless for employment or seeking counsel and must not possess any images or videos of anyone under the age of 16.

It’s not the first time Hartt has had to defend himself from child pornography allegations.

A 2012, an anonymous poster campaign targeting Hartt claimed he had “possessed and displayed material of ‘children in sexual situations,’” and, in bold-type, read: “BOYS BEWARE.” Another poster alleged Hartt watched “local school kids walking home.”

Hartt told the Globe and Mail at the time that he, “acknowledges the danger he is in, noting that pedophilia is society’s great taboo.”

On Saturday, Hartt said those allegations — along with the current charges — are tied to a long-standing feud with a former housemate.

A 2014 police complaint report obtained by the Star details allegations from a man who used to live at Hartt’s home — the two men knew each other for 25 years — who moved out “after he began receiving information that Reg was recording video of young boys,” it alleges. The two men later came into conflict over competing businesses posting flyers in the city, leading to “serious allegations” between the two, the police report reads.

“I knew this day was coming,” Hartt said. “I’ve thought about shutting down. But I decided you got to man up or shut up. And I decided to man up.”

His cluttered first-floor parlour is dubbed Cineforum — a room where he screens alternative movies, holds poetry readings and cultural gatherings that have attracted Torontonians since the early 1990s. Set against a large screen and grey reclining chairs, the room is filled with classic movie posters and film memorabilia from Frankenstein’s mask to a statue of Daffy Duck.

Hartt claims a full library of films from Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers and Greta Garbo — a collection that draws an audience most nights of the week, he says.

It’s the place that has made Hartt a prominent, often polarizing cultural figure in the city, praised by many for his encyclopedic knowledge of film and targeted by city officials and critics for his unusual methods.

His candid writing on his website delves into his youth in New Brunswick (where he says he grew up “hating myself” as a gay person), his move to Toronto with his family as a teen, his deep spiritual faith and his life’s work as a film archivist.

In a 2016 post on his website, he defines Cineforum this way: “It is a combination of Plato’s Symposia (drinking parties where ideas were discussed often followed by sexual encounters between the participants who were male), First Century Christianity (which has none of the attitudes toward ordinary people and sex we find from 3rd Century on), the SALONS of the 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th century.”

Hartt’s movie-screening career actually dates back to the 1960s when he began showing films in a sequence of downtown Toronto venues that brought growing profile and attracted cultural luminaries such as the late urbanist Jane Jacobs. Over the years the sometimes combative impresario has had repeated run-ins with the city over this film showings and the ubiquitously-plastered posters advertising his events which prompted threats of shutdown.

“For the last twenty years the City Of Toronto seems to have been doing everything in its power to curtail my work,” reads a Jan. 17 post on Hartt’s website. “This despite the fact that that work has won and is winning praise from around the world … I’m beginning to see it is time I got the f— out of Toronto.”

The next court appearance to set a date for trial is scheduled for Feb. 15.

Robert Cribb can be reached at rcribb@thestar.ca or on Twitter @thecribby

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RCMP charges Kingston youth with terrorism-related offences over alleged bomb plot

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The RCMP announced Friday morning they have charged a youth with terrorism offences, alleging the minor attempted to get someone to conduct a bombing.

The charges follow a pair of arrests in Kingston on Thursday.

Police officers carry evidence after raiding a house in Kingston ON Thursday.
Police officers carry evidence after raiding a house in Kingston ON Thursday.  (Lars Hagberg / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The youth, whose gender was not released, has been charged with knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity; and counselling a person to deliver, place, discharge or detonate an explosive or other lethal device against a place of public use with intent to cause death or serious bodily injury.

The minor can’t be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The RCMP said a second person, an adult man, has also been arrested but has not been charged.

Both were arrested as part of a national security investigation, Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale confirmed Thursday.

Police are expected to update the public at a news conference in Kingston at 1 p.m.

The FBI, Kingston Police, OPP, Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada all took part in the investigation.

“I want to reassure the citizens of the greater Kingston, Ontario area and all Canadians, that during the investigation, our primary focus was the safety and protection of the public,” RCMP Chief Superintendent Michael LeSage, said in a news release.

“I would also like to highlight the efforts of our (Integrated National Security Enforcement Team) here in Ontario which worked diligently to obtain the evidence required for these charges. Investigations of this nature are complex and require significant time and resources to come to a successful conclusion, while ensuring public safety at all times.”

There has been no change to Canada’s threat level, Goodale said in an emailed statement to the Star on Thursday.

“Taking all relevant information into account, the official threat level for Canada remains at ‘medium,’ where it has stood since the fall of 2014,” Goodale said.

One woman, who said she witnessed the RCMP activity across the street from her residence, said she didn’t hear any police sirens.

“I think they went in and made the arrest quickly,” said the woman, who did not want to give her name. “They had a dog too. It looked like a German Shepherd. I saw it come out of the house.”

She said the residence police targeted is a semi-detached house.

MORE LATER

Patrick Ho is a rewrite editor working on the Star’s digital desk in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @patrick_ho_007

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Former teacher facing 27 sex charges dating to 1970s and 1980s

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A 66-year-old Halifax man who worked as both a teacher and a volunteer coach is facing 27 charges in relation to alleged sexual assaults against more than a dozen youths in the 1970s and 1980s in the Halifax area.

Police began an investigation in October 2016 after several people came forward and reported being sexually assaulted decades ago, Halifax Regional Police said in a news release.

Investigators arrested Michael Patrick McNutt without incident at a home in Halifax Wednesday morning. 

He’s facing 14 counts of gross indecency and 13 counts of indecent assault — the charge that was in effect in the Criminal Code at the time of the alleged offences.

Police said the 13 victims were youths at the time they were allegedly assaulted. They said McNutt, who worked as both a teacher and a volunteer coach, was in a position of trust. Police said they will not release any other details to protect the identity of the victims.

McNutt appeared in Dartmouth provincial court Thursday. He was released on $1,500 bail with the following conditions: no contact with males under the age of 18 and to maintain a distance of more than 10 metres from schools, parks, community centres or places where youths may be. 

His next court date is Feb. 27.

Police said they anticipate laying more charges against McNutt and encourage any other victims to come forward. 

« They want victims to know they will not be judged, and will be treated with compassion, dignity and respect throughout the entire investigative process, » Const. John MacLeod said in the news release.

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