Last edited: November 06, 2004

Lesbian Bathhouse Charges Dismissed; Judge Criticizes Toronto Police

Associated Press, January 31, 2002

TORONTO—Charges against two women who helped organize an all-night lesbian bathhouse were dismissed Thursday and the behavior of the plainclothes police officers who raided the establishment came under harsh criticism.

Several dozen gay community members applauded and cheered as Justice Peter Hryn threw out all the evidence five male police officers obtained at the five-story building where the carnival-like event was held two years ago.

Without the police officers’ observations from Sept. 15, 2000, the Crown didn’t have enough evidence to proceed with a case against Jill Hornick and Rachel Aitcheson, charged with various offenses under the Liquor License Act.

The case sparked heavy criticism from Toronto’s gay community who felt the plainclothes male officers humiliated the women—the majority of them naked or topless—by lingering at the party for more than an hour, saying they were only looking for alcohol violations. Some women were having sex when the officers walked in.

The incident exacerbated the already tense relations between Toronto’s gay community, one of the largest in Canada, and the city’s police force.

Citing a lengthy list of previous judgments, Hryn said the organizers and the 350 partygoers had the right to expect female officers would search the premises since it was a women-only party.

The lawyer who represented the two women said police should have known better since Canada’s Charter of Rights protects people from unreasonable searches, which by law includes physical searches by opposite sex guards.

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