Several members of the Sarnia Police Service are under investigation and could be charged under the Police Services Act in connection with a female officer’s allegations of assault and harassment, Sarnia’s Police Chief says.
In a statement released Friday, Norm Hansen responded to recent media reports about Staff Sergeant McCabe-Wyville and her claim she was assaulted and harassed by a male officer with whom she had a personal relationship.
Hansen said he is still reviewing the information from two third-party investigations into McCabe-Wyville’s allegations – one conducted by Windsor Police and the other by lawyer and workplace investigator Helen Daniel.
The next step is for himself, as Chief, to determine whether charges are warranted under the Police Services Act, Hansen said.
“There have already been notices served upon several employees within the SPS, based upon the Daniel Report, and more are forthcoming,” he said.
“In the coming weeks, investigations will be conducted, and pending the results of these investigations, disciplinary action may result. In addition, the possibility of any Criminal Code charges will be explored with the Crown Attorney’s Office.”
Hansen did not say which officers or civilians might be under investigation, but suggested one of them could be McCabe-Wyville herself.
“There have been allegations in some media reports that actions by this Administration are reprisals against the complainant,” the Chief said.
“However, it remains our position that the activities of Staff Sergeant McCabe-Wyville on social and print media are serious breaches and in contravention of the Code of Conduct, the Administrative Regulations, and the Police Services Act.”
McCabe-Wyville alleges that in 2013 a male officer with whom she had a personal relationship assaulted her in the gym at Sarnia Police headquarters. The male officer ripped her shirt, scratched her chest and threatened to ruin her career, she has said.
The 22-year police veteran has been off work for almost a year, without pay, because of ongoing workplace harassment and fears for her personal safety, her lawyer Gary Bennett has said.
Windsor Police Service initially investigated McCabe-Wyville’s assault allegations.
A Windsor Police investigator concluded last May: “I am of the opinion that reasonable grounds have been satisfied to believe (the male officer) committed the offences of assault and criminal harassment.”
However, after consulting with the Crown, the investigator did not recommend charges be laid because there was no prospect of conviction.
On Feb. 2, Sarnia Police provided a summary of the Daniel report. That investigation, police said, found no evidence of assault, harassment or workplace discrimination, but concluded the Christina Street headquarters had become a “toxic” workplace with pervasive gossip engaged in by officers and civilian employees.
In his statement Friday, Chief Hansen defended the decision not to release the full Daniel report, saying doing so would violate the privacy of the witnesses interviewed and breach both privacy and health and safety legislation.
The Ontario Labour Ministry also investigated the claims. In October, the ministry issued workplace orders requiring Sarnia Police to conduct a risk assessment and devise a safety plan allowing McCabe-Wyville to return to work.
Meanwhile, an arbitrator has been appointed to hear her grievance. A hearing is set for April 1, and the results will be made public, Hansen said Friday.
The Police Board and police union will address the findings and recommendations of the Daniel report, he added.
“We have full confidence in our ability to create a more respectful workplace while strengthening the values of equity and diversity in collaboration with the Sarnia Police Association,” he said.