A Toronto police officer will be charged with two counts of professional misconduct in connection to the investigation into serial killer Bruce McArthur, the Star has learned.
Sgt. Paul Gauthier is scheduled to appear before the Toronto police tribunal Tuesday to be formally charged with neglect of duty and insubordination.
The details of his charges will not be released until after Gauthier’s appearance, but a police source confirms to the Star that it is in connection to an internal review that was launched by Toronto police last year in the midst of the investigation into McArthur.
The review was launched in March, shortly before revelations, published by the Star and other media, that McArthur was questioned by Toronto police in 2016, after a man reported that McArthur had attempted to strangle him during an otherwise consensual sexual encounter. The man immediately reported the incident to police, and McArthur was questioned, but he was let go without charges being laid.
In a statement Friday night, Gauthier’s lawyer said the decision not to charge Bruce McArthur for the 2016 incident “was made in conjunction” with Gauthier’s supervisor “and based on the information available at the time.”
“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.”
Toronto police Insp. Hank Idsinga, one of the investigators who led the McArthur case, told the Star last March that he prepared a report for Toronto police professional standards unit for an internal probe.
While did not disclose any details about the report, he said it was regarding “the actions of some officers in a previous occurrence (who), I am led to believe … potentially did not do what they were supposed to have done, according to our policies and our procedures,” Idsinga told the Star at the time.
Following the 2016 incident, McArthur went on to kill at least two other men: Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman, who were each murdered in 2017. Dean Lisowick was killed “on or about” April 23, 2016, according to a review of the facts filed in court this week; it’s not clear if this incident was before or after the decision not to charge McArthur in the alleged strangling.
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.
According to police tribunal documents, Gauthier was previously charged with two counts of professional misconduct while he was with the sex crimes unit that are unrelated to the McArthur investigation.
Those charges 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.”
While the actions of the Toronto police officers whose work led to McArthur’s arrest have been praised by some within Toronto’s LGBTQ community, many say a public inquiry could identify systemic issues that may have prevented McArthur from being caught sooner.
Former Ontario Court of Appeal judge Gloria Epstein is conducting an independent review of how Toronto police handle missing person’s investigations.
On Wednesday, Epstein wrote a letter to Toronto police board chair Andy Pringle asking that her review be broadened to allow her to examine the police investigation into McArthur himself. Currently, Epstein cannot review Toronto police handling of the serial killer — including past contacts with him — due to restrictions created to preserve McArthur’s fair-trial rights.
Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis