Senior Toronto officer alleges hearing unfair
Charges police prosecutors using ‘awesome’ resources
TORONTO • A senior Toronto police officer facing a disciplinary hearing over allegations that include sexual harassment and bullying of colleagues complained yesterday that the prosecution has been unfair.
The lawyer representing Staff Inspector Steve Izzett suggested Toronto police are using extraordinary resources in a case that could potentially end the career of a one-time rising star on the force.
“What is at stake here is the reputation of my client, who has had an exemplary career for 25 years. The prosecution has the benefit of the awesome machinery of the force. My client has been alone, relying on his personal resources,” said lawyer Won Kim at the Police Services Act hearing.
Mr. Kim asked for more time to “digest” the 180,000 pages of evidence that has been disclosed to his client since eight disciplinary charges were issued in March 2009. “This is like a securities case,” he said in reference to the amount of material, which includes interviews with 50 police witnesses.
Mr. Izzett, 45, was the head of the Toronto police intelligence unit, which probes organized crime and biker gangs, when the allegations against him came to light in 2008. The disciplinary charges are wideranging and unprecedented against such a high-ranking officer.
One allegation is that while the head of the intelligence unit, he made unwanted advances toward a female colleague. “You pressured her to have an intimate relationship with you, inappropriately made comments about her physical appearance and sexual orientation,” states the Notice of Hearing that alleges Mr. Izzett engaged in the “sexualization” of office conversation.
Other counts include allegations that Mr. Izzett displayed “tyrannical conduct” toward junior colleagues, such as addressing officers as “assholes.” He is also accused of soliciting officers “to act as spies” as well as disposing of official notes and trying to delete files from a Toronto police laptop.
Mr. Izzett has been suspended with pay from his $130,000-a-year job for the past 16 months. He has “the unshaken conviction that he will clear his name,” Mr. Kim said.
The heart of the case was disclosed “well over a year ago,” said Brian Gover, one of two outside lawyers retained by Toronto police to act as prosecutors at the disciplinary hearing.
“While he is suspended with pay, he is gaining pension credits,” said Mr. Gover, who suggested the officer is trying to stall the disciplinary process.
Mr. Izzett has already unsuccessfully asked the Ontario Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal to throw out the charges.
A retired Superior Court judge has been appointed to preside over the disciplinary hearing. Keith Hoilett granted Mr. Izzett a one-week adjournment, but turned down a request to delay the hearing until the fall. “What is important in my view is that the show get on the road,” Mr. Hoilett said.
The hearing resumes July 26, when the prosecution will present its case.
Toronto police Staff Inspector Steve Izzett leaves a disciplinary hearing at a police station yesterday.