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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