Originally scheduled to begin in October, the disciplinary hearing for a Toronto sergeant facing charges in connection to the 2016 arrest — then release — of serial killer Bruce McArthur has been delayed.
Sgt. Paul Gauthier is facing two counts of professional misconduct under Ontario’s Police Services Act, both stemming from a June 2016 incident involving McArthur, who killed eight men with ties to Toronto’s Gay Village between 2010 and 2017.
Gauthier is alleged to have failed to videotape the interview with a man who called 911 to report that McArthur tried to strangle him — a written statement was taken instead — and failed to have photographs taken within 72 hours of the alleged assault. Both steps are required in the Toronto police domestic violence procedure.
Gauthier denies he did anything wrong.
At a brief hearing at Toronto police headquarters Wednesday, Gauthier’s lawyer, Lawrence Gridin, said delays in communication with the police prosecutor on the case had resulted in unresolved issues — just over six weeks before the hearing was scheduled to begin.
He requested a pre-hearing conference before hearing officer Supt. Riyaz Hussein with prosecutor Alexandra Ciobotaru, which was held Wednesday morning.
Hussein agreed that the move to set hearing dates for the fall was “premature.” Among the issues still yet to be resolved, he said, was whether Gauthier would be in attendance; the officer has not yet appeared at the tribunal due to undisclosed medical issues.
Following the closed-door pre-hearing conference, the trial dates that had been set aside for the hearing in October were vacated, though the case will return to the tribunal on October 21 for an update on progress.
“There’s quite a bit of work for us to do, and we intend to do that in the interim,” Gridin said.
On the evening of June 20, 2016, a man called 911 to report that McArthur had attempted to strangle him during an otherwise consensual sexual encounter inside the killer’s van. The man broke free of McArthur’s grasp and called police.
“Someone just tried to strangle me to death,” the man told dispatcher minutes after escaping McArthur’s van, as heard in a 911 call played for the Star in an interview with the man earlier this year.
The now-convicted killer turned himself into police later that night, claiming there had been a misunderstanding and that he’d thought the man wanted it rough. The interview was videotaped.
McArthur was let go the same night with no charges. Gauthier, one of the investigating officers, found McArthur “genuine and credible,” according to police documents.
McArthur had killed six men by that time and went on to kill two more, Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman.
Police documents state that Gauthier was the domestic violence investigator in charge of the investigation. The Toronto police procedure states that the domestic violence investigator shall ensure “the needs of the victim are met, effective management of the crime scene, including the gathering of evidence and ensure that a (thorough) and comprehensive investigation is conducted.”
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Specifically, it requires that, when possible, police obtain a video statement from the complainant, and that photos are taken of any injuries within 48 to 72 hours of the incident. It’s alleged that Gauthier did neither.
Gauthier has denied the allegations against him. In a letter written to colleagues and obtained by the Star, he says he has been made the fall guy in the wake of criticism over Toronto police’s handling of the McArthur investigation, and that a proper investigation was done.