Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Canadian government sits on their hands while Vancouver cops’ Cuban nightmare continues

with 3 comments

The two Vancouver area cops, Jordan Long and Mark Simms, are still languishing in Cuba, unable to leave the island, Communist country despite being acquitted unanimously by a five woman judicial panel a month ago. They have been informed the prosecution service want to appeal the acquittal. They have not been informed on what grounds the appeal is being sought. Indeed, it seems the prosecution just wants to regurgitate the same arguments it made at trial which were ruled against by the judicial panel.

They have also not been told when the appeal might occur. So, they languish, waiting for something, anything, to occur. 

One of the problems with all of this is that none of the evidence supports the allegations of the accuser and all of the evidence led at the trial, save and except the statement of the accuser, supports the statement of the two officers. 

The accuser claims she was dragged more than 500 metres from the poolside bar at the resort Sol Sirenas Coral, a four star resort in Varadero, Cuba. Her statement, introduced as the only evidence at trial against the two men, says she was dragged all that way to the lobby, through the lobby, past a bar, coffee shop, front desk, all those tourists and staff, up three flights of stairs and held down and raped in the officers’ room. And somehow, magically, nobody noticed. 

The statement also said that after she fled the room she ran downstairs, stumbling drunk, upset and crying through the lobby and across to the other side of the resort where she was staying with a friend. Again, magically, no one noticed. 

I should also note that she was invited to attend the trial and give direct evidence but declined. 

That couldn’t happen in Canadian law but it can in Cuban law. 

The lawyer representing the two officers requested the resort or the police provide the CCTV video of the day in question and essentially were ignored. The prosecution never led any video evidence that surely would have told the tale as to who was telling the truth. 

A resort security guard did testify at the trial saying that he reviewed what was available and that he watched her walk through the lobby, looking normal, not upset and certainly not running. He also testified that she did not appear drunk. He further testified that he dealt with her personally after the complaint was made and she was completely in control and not exhibiting any evidence of being drunk.

In other words there is not a scintilla of evidence supporting the statement of the accuser and lots of evidence supporting the statements of the two officers. Despite this, the Government of Canada still sits on their hands doing absolutely nothing but “monitoring” the situation. 

Meanwhile, the two cops are sitting in a lower cost, but still expensive, three star hotel because they cannot leave, paying for the cost out of their own pockets. They have been there for nine months and they are rapidly running out of money. 

They have received precious little support from the Canadian embassy there other than being allowed to make phone calls to family members. A senator and a couple of MPs have reached out expressing interest, but as far as I can see the government has done the square root of bugger all.

The families have helped out as much as they can and their pastor, the Reverend Blake Field of the Wilson Heights United Church has done everything he can, including going to Cuba twice and spending a total of 26 days there to try and help because he speaks fluent Spanish from an earlier posting in Spain. His parish’s website www.whuc.net has been taking donations to help, but more is needed. 

And still not a word from the Government of Canada.The Prime Minister is aware. The Global Affairs Minister is aware. But still, nothing is done. I guess having a Canadian passport when travelling abroad really doesn’t mean much in Justin Trudeau’s Canada. 

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

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Written by Leo Knight

December 5, 2018 at 7:49 pm

Cops’ Cuban nightmare continues

with 5 comments

As reported last week, the two Vancouver-area cops trapped in Cuba for the past eight months were acquitted of the accusation of sexual assault by a five all-female judicial panel. The accuser declined to attend to give evidence. The only evidence against them at trial was a statement given to a Cuban investigator the night in question. At no time was there any ability to challenge her statement by way of cross examination.

In Cuban law, there is supposed to be prosecutor and a defence lawyer present during the statement so questions can be asked and the statement challenged. That never happened.

Despite that, the judicial panel acquitted unanimously. But still they couldn’t leave. In Cuban law there is an appeal period and a week or so later the prosecutor filed an appeal. On what grounds, we are not sure.

We believe, partly because of what was said at trial, the prosecutor will argue the accuser was too drunk to be able to form consent. On this point there is no evidence. A hotel employee who saw her after the alleged incident testified she looked fine, not upset and not drunk.

Cuban police took a blood sample two days later which yielded a Blood Alcohol Content reading of 120 mgs. (80 is the legal limit to drive). What that tells us is that in the intervening time she had been drinking. Which tells us absolutely nothing about the day in question. The hotel employee’s evidence is much more telling.

After the acquittal, media across the country were telling the story. This prompted something called “Statement from Family Friend” to be released to the media.

It starts off being accusatory saying, “Just because the two men wear badges doesn’t mean they should be believed.”

I agree. And just because she’s female doesn’t automatically mean she is to be believed.

That’s why we look at the evidence, and when we do we find that there is not a scintilla of actual evidence that supports or corroborates the statement of the accuser. None.

She left the boys’ room and went to hers, through the lobby, past dozens of tourists and staff members an said nothing. When she got back to her room, her roommate asked where she had been and for reasons best known to her, she uttered the rape story. The roommate then initiated a call to hotel security who called Cuban police. At that point she was stuck with her story.

Cuban police took her to a hospital where a rape kit was conducted. There was no evidence of semen, no bruising, no tearing of the vaginal walls. Nothing one would expect to find with a violent rape as she claimed it was.

She also claimed she was dragged over 500 metres from the poolside bar, through the lobby, up three flights of stairs into the cops’ room and was held down and raped. Across a resort at peak season, through a busy lobby, past a bar, a coffee shop, front desk and somehow no one noticed? It strains credulity well past the breaking point.

The evidence given at trial by hotel security staff is just the icing on the cake.

The resort is covered by CCTV cameras. The defence asked multiple times for that video which they knew would debunk the allegation and corroborate the cops. They were never able to get any of it. And, the prosecution never led any video at trial. Why?

The answer is simple. Because the video simply did not support the allegation made in the statement so the Cuban prosecutor is covering it up.  So, why the zeal by the prosecutor to prosecute the case initially and secondly, why the appeal?

The Canadian government has not lifted a finger to help out the two officers. They said they were monitoring the situation. Fine. But the trial has occurred and the acquittal was unanimous. To keep them hostage while a sham of an appeal proceeds through the Cuban system is wrong and our government needs to come out forcefully and say so. They need to demand their release or put at risk Canadian tourism to the island and our generous foreign aid programs. Just the threat of which would get their attention. Balls are the answer, not colourful socks.

As a final note, the statement from the family friend ended with, bizarrely: “Even if what they say is true, is this the type of behaviour we want in our boys in blue?” Even if? Even if? What?

They were two young, single men on a well-earned holiday in a resort. Imagine, young single folks partying on holidays in a sun-soaked resort, who could possibly imagine cops might do that too?

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

November 23, 2018 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Cops in Cuba cleared by courts but still not free to leave

with 5 comments

I have learned in my life to expect very little from our government. And I always get less than I expect. 

The two Vancouver area cops being held hostage in Cuba have received exactly that from our federal government – nothing. There has been no attempted intervention with the Cuban government. They have said they are monitoring the situation and that’s about it. Oh, and they let the boys make phone calls from our Consulate in Matanzas to their family. 

They went on trial in late October after being held in Cuba on dubious allegations of a sex assault by a less than credible complainant. The trial was held before a panel of five judges, two of which were lay persons. I should add that all five were female. In these days of “Me Too” and “believe all women” this is important. 

The complainant, a precocious 17-yr-old from Barrie, Ontario chose not to appear for trial to give evidence. She was invited by the Cuban government and that request was relayed via the Canadian government. But, no. She did not attend for whatever reason.

Most likely she didn’t want to subject herself to cross examination lest she be proved the liar she is.

To be clear, she initiated a sexual encounter with one of the police officers. It was consensual. The other officer stayed on the balcony as nature took its course. She tried to engage him in the activities not once, but twice and twice he rebuffed her. 

Well, hell hath no fury as a wise man once said, to quote former Vancouver Homicide Detective Bob Cooper.  

She left the room and returned to hers in the same resort. She was even seen by a hotel security officer in the packed resort hotel. He testified at the trial that she seemed normal, not drunk, not upset, just normal. 

That’s an important fact in this whole thing. Follow along. 

In law, when considering sex assault allegations, there is something called the Doctrine of Recent Complaint. In essence, if the first person the victim comes in contact with following a sexual assault is told of the assault it adds credibility to the allegation.

Well, that didn’t happen in this case. She said nothing to the hotel security guard nor anyone else in a very busy resort hotel. Not a word and according to the evidence to the security officer she looked normal. Not upset. Not drunk. Nothing out of the ordinary.

So, how’d this thing get started? When she got back to her room she was asked by a friend where she had been and she then and only then came up with her nonsensical story. The friend  contacted security staff who then called police.  By then the complainant was stuck. In for a penny, in for a pound I suppose.

The prosecution’s theory is that she was too drunk to consent. Yet, in the investigation no one took a blood sample from her until two days later. It yielded a result of .120 which said she had been drinking in the days since the alleged event but nothing more. It was evidence of absolutely nothing except the girl liked drinking while on holiday with her friends. While she was doing that, the two cops she accused of sexual assault were in a Cuban jail. 

I should also add in all of this, the friend who was the first person told of the allegation, was never interviewed by Cuban police. 

So, the only evidence against the two police officers was a statement given to a Cuban police officer on the night in question that was never tested by a cross-examination. And the alleged “victim” declined to return and provide evidence. 

The five female judges heard the evidence and returned a verdict of not guilty. But that is not the end of the matter. There is still an appeal period where the prosecution or the complainant can say they are not satisfied and file an appeal. It is not clear under Cuban law whether the appeal has to be a question of law as it does in most Western democracies. Whether or not the complainant was drunk is a finding of fact and the court found that she was not and her allegations were not to be believed. Yet, the Cuban government still holds the two officers hostage to a system that no one seems to understand. 

When contacted, the boys’ family had this to say: “We are grateful that the judges ruled that the evidence, both scientific and physical, did not corroborate the accusations. In fact, all of the evidence undermined the credibility of the accuser’s statement in numerous important ways. The substance of what the accuser said was directly and absolutely contradicted by the evidence.”

This is important because the Cuban system of justice, such as it is, does not have a presumption of innocence. Quite the opposite in fact. An accused must prove their innocence. The court agreed there was nothing to the allegations. 

But, unfortunately, the two officers are still being held hostage. It’s hard for me to see how any appeal could succeed, but there it is. We still wait for the two officers to be allowed to leave their paradise prison. 

We also wait for the Canadian government to do something, anything to help two serving police officers held by Cuba and not being allowed to serve the citizens of Canada. As I said earlier, I expect little from government and God knows these two officers have gotten less than that. 

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

November 17, 2018 at 7:58 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

ISIS fighter more important to Canada than Canadian cops in Cuba

with 13 comments

For seven months two Vancouver area police officers have been detained in Cuba facing an allegation of rape made by a fellow Canadian tourist. They were held in jail for seven days and once released were told they cannot leave the country as the investigation ran its course. 

During that period of time, no one from the Canadian Embassy in Havana bothered to go to see them. The only contact they had was with a consular official in Matanzas who sympathized with them and allowed them to make phone calls to family in Vancouver, but was not able to offer much more than that.

Last week we learned that Canadian officials from Global Affairs Canada were communicating with a former ISIS fighter dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the British media. He isn’t Canadian, he is British born but has a connection to Canada via one of his parents. 

Jihadi Jack’s real name is Jack Letts, a Muslim convert born in Oxford in 1995 to a Canadian organic farmer father, Jack and a British mother, Sally.  

In September 2014 Jihadi Jack travelled to Syria. In 2016, The Sunday Times reported that he told his parents that he had joined ISIS. He has since stated that he travelled to the Middle East “to search for the truth” and that he never really joined ISIS.  He does say he went to Syria “To spread the religion of Allah and to help Muslims.” He married a local girl after he adopted the name Abu Mohammed and they had a child. 

After the fall of ISIS Jihadi Jack was taken prisoner by the Kurdish forces who were at the forefront of the fight with ISIS. The UK said he forfeited his right to assistance because of his ties to ISIS. Because of his Canadian parentage, for whatever reason, the Canadian government has taken over the case. In fact, Global Affairs Canada has reached out to him proactively and saying in an email exchange, “If it would be possible, would you like to come to Canada?”

“I want to live a normal life. I want to come to Canada,” Jihadi Jack replied. This, despite the fact there is no evidence he has ever set foot in the country.

In the email exchange, the consular official explained that we don’t have consular operations in Syria but nevertheless they were working on it. 

Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition raised the issue in the House of Commons in Ottawa with the Prime Minister. As with most things, the PM, Justin Trudeau gave a non-responsive answer to a simple question, saying his government “takes with the utmost seriousness the threats posed by traveling extremists.”

Well that was clear as mud. 

Meanwhile, back in Veradero, Cuba, two actual Canadians, serving police officers are being held in that country on a flimsy accusation that simply doesn’t stand up to the most cursory of examinations. The accuser’s story is nonsense and I suspect even the Cuban authorities have realized this and they have moved the goalposts in what they are saying the two officers did. Now, instead of dragging her over 500 metres from the pool bar to the resort, through the busy lobby, past a bar, coffee shop and up three flights of stairs, they are now saying they took advantage of a drunk female. They took a blood test from the accuser two days after the alleged event and somehow this is evidence of their accusation?

Well, this week the two officers finally heard from someone in Canadian consular operations. 

In that communication they acknowledge they are aware that a trial date has been set for October 25 which clearly tells us they have been in communication with the Cuban government. 

They also say there’s not much they can or will do other than monitor the situation. 

In the note, they say, “There are limitations to consular services. We are able to advocate for your fair and equal treatment under local laws. On your behalf we have asked the local authorities several times, through diplomatic channels to expedite the process, but they are under no legal obligation to do so.”

The note goes on. “Once a decision is rendered, depending on the result, you may be released and allowed to return to Canada or be incarcerated.” Well, thanks Captain Obvious.

After saying there is nothing they will do, they invited the two officers to a meeting which is to take place Thursday.  Evidently there will be officials in Ottawa and Miami dialled into the meeting where they will all say sorry, but you are at the mercy of the Cuban justice system. 

So, if I have this right, the Canadian government, which does not have consular operations in Syria, is doing whatever it can to get Jihadi Jack released from the custody of the Kurds. But in Cuba, where it does have consular operations, Global Affairs Canada is doing nothing to get two Canadian police officers released despite the nonsense allegations made against them. 

Canada is the largest supplier of tourists to the Cuban economy, more than 1.3 million a year. The next largest country is the US which provides a little more than 240,000 a year. I’d say that gives this country a little leverage with the Cuban government. 

Canada also gives Cuba a significant amount of foreign aid a year not to mention the too numerous to track federally-funded non-profits who work there helping their locals in all manner of ventures. 

It seems to me that some back-channel communications threatening their tourism and foreign aid would go a long way towards getting some justice for the two Canadian police officers unjustly accused by a sociopathic female. 

Meanwhile, the President of the US has, so far in less than two years, managed to get 17 American hostages released from places like North Korea and just last week, Turkey. If only Canada had a leader with the same testicular fortitude to take advantage of the leverage this country possesses. 

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

October 17, 2018 at 8:41 pm

Canadian cops trapped in Cuba facing kangaroo court

with 11 comments

Over the course of the past month, I have told you the story of the two Vancouver area police officers being held in Cuba on fabricated allegations of rape made by a fellow Canadian tourist.  

The accuser, a then 17-yr-old female approached the two in a poolside bar around 4:30 in the afternoon. She told them in no uncertain terms she wanted to have sex with one or both of them. They were in an adult bar in a resort mostly frequented by Canadians and she had been there being served by resort staff. They had no reason to believe she was underage and she certainly didn’t look it. 

While she was not encouraged to go back to their room, she wasn’t discouraged either. They left the bar and she followed and she was allowed into their room. One of the two, who was single, engaged in consensual sex with her while the other stayed out on their balcony. Before leaving, she tried to convince the other to play and she was rebuffed. Well, hell hath no fury as a wise man once said. 

She left and the two laid down for a pre-dinner nap. They were awakened a half-hour later by hotel security and their nightmare began. Seven months later it’s still going on. 

She claimed in her statement to police that she was dragged physically over 500 metres from the poolside bar to the resort, through a crowded lobby, past a bar, restaurant and up three flights of stairs to a room where she was raped by one of the cops while being held down. Somehow, no one in the busy resort noticed.

That was then. Despite the original statement given to the Cuban police, the prosecution is now trying to say that she was drunk and the two men took advantage of her by somehow directing her back to their room instead of dragging her as she originally claimed in her statement. Convenient isn’t it?

The reality is that the case, as a whole, is a moving target. Cuban justice, such as it is, bears no resemblance to anything we might recognize as justice. The two cops have no ability to face their accuser. In fact, they will not even be afforded the opportunity to challenge the claims made by way of cross-examination. 

The accuser won’t be attending any sort of trial. The only evidence against them is the original statement given by the accuser to the Cuban police officer investigating the claim. 

Under Cuban law, if an accuser cannot attend a trial, a statement is to be given in the presence of a prosecuting lawyer and a defence lawyer so that questions may be asked by both sides. 

That didn’t happen in this case. 

The two officers have been advised there will be a trial the last week in October in the town of Matanzas, where there is Canadian consular staff. But, no one is allowed to view the trial save and except two “guests” of the accused. 

The officers cannot even hire their own translator to ensure they are receiving accurate information of a trial being held in Spanish. The Cuban government will assign a translator, who is employed by the same government agency who employs the judges, the prosecutor and the defence counsel. That sure sounds fair.

The defence lawyers have been given a document called “conclusion provisionals” (sp?) which sounds to me like an indictment document which outlines what the prosecution says is the evidence against the two officers. 

If that is the case, the Cuban government is dropping any pretence of trying to prove the actual allegations made by the accuser about the dragging through the resort and the violent rape while being held down. It would seem they are now trying to claim the accuser was drunk and the two cops guided her back to the room where the “rape” occurred. 

Now, I should note that a blood sample was taken from the accuser to determine her BAC (blood alcohol content). The only problem is that the sample was taken two days after the alleged attack. A physical examination of the accuser showed no evidence of a sexual assault; no semen, no bruising, no vaginal tearing, nothing to indicate anything other than consensual sex had taken place. 

One wonders at what point in the proceedings a kangaroo will bound through the courtroom?

From my vantage point, although I know the Canadian government, while aware of the situation, hasn’t done anything to help these two Canadian police officers trapped in the jaws of the Cuban communist justice system. They say, officially, they are monitoring the situation, but monitoring is not going to help these two men. 

The western concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’, the so-called ‘Golden Thread’ that runs through our justice system is not evident in Cuba. 

There will be five so-called judges on a panel hearing this case. Two of whom are lay persons. There is also designated a ‘president’ or head judge on the panel. All questions are routed through the president who does all the talking. 

This is a travesty. But it is not up to the Canadian government to question the Cuban system. It is up to the Canadian government to intervene and stand up for the rights of Canadians being unjustly prosecuted in a foreign land. This case would never get in front of a Canadian judge, it is so weak. Yet, in Cuba two police officers, who were just tourists from Vancouver, are staring at significant jail time on the basis of nothing but the uncorroborated, baseless allegations of what, in my opinion, is a sociopathic female.

Tourism is Cuba’s largest industry. Canada represents more than 30% of that industry with more than 1.3 million visitors every year and is by far and away the single largest contributor to that industry of any country in the world. 

Cuba would not want to jeopardize that cash cow.  The government of Canada needs to remind the Cuban government that unjust treatment of Canadian citizens is a problem. Made even more so when those citizens are police officers who serve the citizens of Canada. 

Perhaps a phone call from the Minister of Global Affairs to the Cuban Ambassador to Canada to remind him of that would be in order.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

 

Written by Leo Knight

October 12, 2018 at 6:27 pm

Canadian cops held in Cuba need justice

with 10 comments

Like many of you I was gripped by the testimony last week of Christine Blasey Ford who accused US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault way back when the two were teenagers and high school students, in what we think was the summer of 1982. 

But even that’s not clear. 

She doesn’t remember a date. She doesn’t remember a location. She seemingly doesn’t remember much other than what she says Kavanaugh did to her. The four people she said were present at the gathering all say they have no recollection of anything similar to what she described including her BFF.

As an investigator, there is so much wrong with her story. As an example, she claims she went to a social gathering at this house but she doesn’t remember where, when or even whose house it was after an afternoon at her country club. She claims when she went to an upstairs washroom she was grabbed by Kavanaugh and his friend and steered into an adjacent bedroom where she was held down and Kavanaugh tried to remove her clothes. 

She claims they turned up music in the bedroom all the while saying there was no music playing downstairs where the others were.  And nobody heard anything including her BFF. 

She then claims she fled after she escaped the two boys but doesn’t remember how she got home. Implicit in this is she left her BFF in the house with two predators, older teen boys and doesn’t remember how she got home. 

Well, I call bulls**t.

I have investigated many complaints over the 40 or so years of my career and I have never heard a less credible story. A 15-yr-old girl goes to a party with older high school guys and leaves her BFF and doesn’t remember how she got where she was, how she got home, where the home was or whose home it was? Nonsense. 

Now I don’t want to diminish any woman who is a victim of any sort of sexual assault. I have investigated and prosecuted many such cases. But please, don’t strain my credulity with nonsense. 

But, and this really must be stated in this Me Too era, just because a woman says something occurred doesn’t mean we have to automatically believe her. 

About 10 years ago I had a conversation with the person in charge of the Sex Crime Unit in one of the Big Five Lower Mainland RCMP detachments and she told me that she estimated approximately 90% of the complaints she investigated were unfounded. I was stunned. 

So, I called the then head of the Sex Crime Unit for a major municipal police department and asked her the same question. She said, and this quote is indelibly etched in my mind, “No, I don’t think it’s as high as 90%. Maybe 85%.”

There are many reasons why a woman might allege something occurred that didn’t actually occur. In the case of Judge Kavanaugh it seems more politically motivated than anything else. Especially given the timeline of the complaint, the lack of questioning by the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Diane Feinstein when she had the opportunity, the dramatic leaking of the identity of the complainant especially in view of the fact she prepared for that weeks prior  by scrubbing her social media, hiring a lawyer referred to her by Feinstein and taking a private polygraph that she doesn’t know who paid for it. 

All of which brings me back to the two Vancouver area police officers being held, since mid-March in Cuba after an allegation of sexual assault by a fellow tourist they encountered in a poolside bar at a resort in Cuba. 

In any such case an investigator looks for evidence of corroboration to give credibility to one party or the other. 

In the Cuba case, the female involved claims she was dragged, at 4:30 in the afternoon, in peak season, from the poolside bar to and through the lobby of the busy resort, up three flights of stairs and held down and raped in a room occupied by the two cops. 

Above is a screen shot of the resort with the location of the bar and the distance to the resort lobby:

Does this even seem remotely plausible? During peak season with a very busy resort, 500 metres to the lobby, past stores, the lobby bar, the front desk and no one noticed? How is that possible?

Well, it isn’t, and that’s why we can say the complaint doesn’t hold water. Why won’t the Cuban authorities see the blindingly obvious? Why won’t the Government of Canada see it as well and intercede on behalf of the two police officers? 

The complainant and the two officers are Canadians. No Cubans were involved in any part of this. If an investigation is required into this, and I would argue that the complaint simply doesn’t pass the sniff test on the surface of things, why shouldn’t that investigation occur in Canada by competent Canadian investigators and make the two officers subject to Canadian law?

Finally, it must be said that I expect little out of the government of Justin Trudeau. He has been a Castro sycophant his whole life. The Minister of what is now Global Affairs, Chrystia Freeland is over in her head with the NAFTA negotiations and the Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale has been a Trudeau lackey since he was first elected as an MP when Trudeau the Elder was the Prime Minister. He has never held a real job or achieved anything in his whole  adult life. Sad, but we cannot really expect much of anything from this lot. 

Erin O’Toole, the opposition critic for Global Affairs, has been made aware of the situation but has yet to do much of anything as far as I can tell. What he should do is raise the matter in Question Period which will get the attention of the parliamentary press gallery and may actually cause the government to do something.

In the meantime, the two police officers languish in Cuba, paying to stay in a hotel with the support of their family and they are struggling emotionally and financially because even though they are not in jail, the Cuban government won’t let them leave. They really need to see something resembling justice and the only way that will happen is if the Canadian government gets seized with their responsibility for their citizens being held in a foreign, communist country. 

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Leo Knight 

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

September 30, 2018 at 8:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Cops held in Cuba get community support

with 26 comments

There’s been a lot of reaction to my last post about the two Vancouver area cops who went to Cuba for a holiday last March and are still there because the Cuban government won’t let them leave. VPD Constable Mark Simms, then 28, and his close friend, Port Moody PD Constable Jordan Long, then 30, were enjoying a planned holiday of sun and relaxation when they had a fateful encounter with a girl. 

They were accused of sexual assault by a fellow tourist from Canada, herself a 17-year-old from Ontario. The accusation is that she walked over to the two males seated at the swimming pool bar at their resort. I should add the girl had been in the bar drinking with friends at the same time so there was no reason to assume she was underage. Resort staff were serving her. Equally, age in not a legal question in this matter as the age of consent is 16 in Cuba.

She walked over to the two friends and told them she wanted to have sex with them. Some of the reaction I received concerned why they let her follow them to their room and why did they let her in. Gee, I don’t know. They were on holiday at a resort in Cuba. They’d been drinking at the pool. The girl wanted sex and Simms being a single, healthy guy acceded. Long stepped out on the balcony to let nature take its course. 

The female made two attempts to interest Long but was rebuffed both times. The female got dressed and left and the guys laid down on their beds for a nap. The next thing they knew hotel security were rousing them and their nightmare began. 

The complaint from the girl to the Cuban police said they dragged her from the pool bar over 500 metres to the resort hotel, through a busy hotel lobby and up three flights of stairs to their room where she was held down and raped.

Those are the two sides to this ‘He said / she said’ story.  What we do know for sure is the Cuban police have booted this one around the block. In any matter like this, investigators need to establish if there is any evidence that corroborates one side or the other. Or conversely, finding evidence that pokes holes in the story of one side or the other. 

Police did not immediately request the CCTV video all around the resort be saved for them to review. Why not? This would have conclusively established which side was telling the truth.

A medical exam of the female yielded no corroborating evidence of rape. Typically, there is bruising, vaginal tearing, defensive wounds and the like. Nothing in this case. 

A blood alcohol test of the alleged victim taken 17 hours later yielded a BAC of .12 or 50% higher than the legal limit in Canada. After 17 hours we don’t know if that’s a residual alcohol level or if she consumed alcohol in the interim between the event and the test. 

Police canvassing folks at the hotel yielded no one, staff or otherwise, who saw anything like the girl is claiming. 

That, in itself, is telling. The cops, for their part, were kept separated and interviewed separately and gave similar versions of events. That tends to corroborate their stories. 

They were held in custody for seven days. They managed to contact Canadian officials and their family in Vancouver because Long managed to keep his phone with him and availed himself of the opportunity to reach out to the outside world when he was alone. 

Reverend Blake Field, pastor of the Wilson Heights United church, where the Simms family are parishioners, wanted to help. He speaks Spanish from an earlier assignment in Spain. He got permission of church elders  to go there to see what he could do. He made two trips and spent a total of 26 days there, translating, liaising with the police, Canadian officials and assisting defence counsel in reviewing the investigation including the only statement taken by from the complainant by the police. Two weeks ago he issued a statement to his congregation which he has shared with me. 

In it, he says, “I am not a lawyer, but from all I have seen and heard during the 26 days I spent in Cuba, I am deeply concerned because I am convinced that Constable Mark Simms and Constable Jordan Long have been accused of a crime they did not commit.  I firmly believe that the evidence does not substantiate and actually undermines the reliability and sincerity of the allegations made against them.  This unthinkable situation has taken a substantial toll on these two individuals:  physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially, and has been a great burden on their families, loved ones, friends and community.”

“I ask people to imagine how they would feel if criminal allegations they believed with all their hearts were untrue were made against their son or brother or nephew or friend, or indeed themselves. Magnify that by the fact that it took place in a foreign country with its own laws and legal process very different from ours with the serious complication of a complete language barrier.  In my personal life and as a minister of the Christian Church, I stand in absolute solidarity with victims of violence.  That is why I find this particular situation so disturbing, especially at a time when victims are feeling empowered to finally come forward and hold their abusers to account for their actions, as this only detracts from the important movement that is taking place.”

“An appropriate time may come to elaborate on the details which have caused me to believe that Simms and Long are the victims of allegations which are not true.  In the meantime, we ask for your prayers and your support for these two people and their families.” 

“This church has a long history of working for justice, both in the world and in particular situations of crisis.  Because of my experience, I absolutely believe that the details of this situation do not support the allegations that were made. The leadership of this congregation fully supports the work I have done and has covered the expenses related to it. But now these families need your help and support. I would like to announce that the congregation of Wilson Heights United Church has started a benevolent fund to help offset the considerable financial costs that this long ordeal has incurred for these individuals and their families.  We initiated a campaign to which donations can be made through the church website at www.whuc.net or, if you prefer, donations identified for this cause can be made by sending a cheque to the church.   I wish to be clear that I did not go to Cuba as an individual, but rather I went with the blessing and under the auspices of the church I serve.  Likewise, my statement today and the fundraising campaign are to be understood as aspects of this congregation’s mission in the area of justice-seeking in response to this crisis.  May God bless this work.”

Indeed. Godspeed Reverend. 

-30-

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

September 9, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment