Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

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

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Written by Leo Knight

September 9, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

26 Responses

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  1. Thanks for this one Leo! Glad to send some $$ support just wish could do more!

    Ian WHITTINGTON

    September 10, 2018 at 8:55 am

  2. Made a donation tonight, please keep us informed if there are any more developments. I find it very unusual that our dear leader & others in Gov’t have not lifted a finger to help these two. Never mind make arrangements so the RCMP Liaison officer can make regular trips there to check on them & the “investigation”
    Funny as Dear Leader has so much admiration for the Cuban’s and Fidel & friends…..Because they are white & cops, they don’t fit his narrative & agenda…

    Anon

    September 10, 2018 at 8:21 pm

  3. My husband and I spent two days with these men from Sept 5-7. Let me tell you it is a living hell! It is shameful what is happening to these men. I would encourage Canadians to write the Ministry of Foreign affairs and let’s all do our best to get these men home!

    Sharon Litven

    September 11, 2018 at 6:01 pm

  4. I mentored one of these men in a previous career.
    I have known both and they are well raised positive people.
    I’ve never seen either of them treat women poorly let alone the ridiculous claims made here.

    She needs to come clean and do the right thing.

    Thomas wheatcroft

    September 13, 2018 at 4:32 pm

  5. It is outrageous that this has been able to go on for so long. If there is no solid evidence against the two men and the girl refuses to come back to Cuba to testify, then Cuba should let the guys go. Let Canada deal with this, we will have our own investigation. The OPCC should have been on this ages ago – interviewing the girl, her friends, and doing their due diligence. It appears Cuba has botched this case entirely so I would not wait for any ruling made by them. In fact, if a thorough investigation was done in Canada, I bet you would find that the so called “victim” has been perpetuating a lie while two innocent men are stuck in a third world communist country paying a price for a crime they did not commit.

    Anon

    September 18, 2018 at 11:19 am

  6. DONATED! PLEASE BRING THESE MEN HOME. It is absolutely disgusting what is happening. We need justice for these men.

    anonymous

    September 18, 2018 at 11:30 am

  7. EXCELLENT article. I am a full believer these two men are INNOCENT. Freedom for Mark and Jordan!

    Anonymous

    September 18, 2018 at 11:34 am

  8. Cuba is a rough place. I do not wish this upon anyone. What this girl has done is inexcusable. Taking advantage of the #metoo movement and making false allegations in order to destroy someone else’s life. That is a true crime. These two men need to come home and that girl should face jail time!

    Anonymous

    September 18, 2018 at 11:37 am

  9. I personally know Mark Simms and I have to say that is he is a very kind, thoughtful, and respectable individual. He is a family man, always there for his friends and he is passionate about his career. Mark has always treated women with the utmost respect and so there is no doubt in my mind that the alleged victim is lying. Why? I am not certain, but I have my suspicions, and hopefully at some point it will be confirmed and these two innocent men will be released. To the accuser: DO THE RIGHT THING. These are good men and you are ruining their (and their family’s) lives with your lie.

    Anonymous

    September 18, 2018 at 11:41 am

  10. Hi Leo. Any updates on this?

    A.Y.

    September 18, 2018 at 4:58 pm

  11. It’s an absolute disgrace to our citizens our honour and our nation that Cuba treats our people this way.

    Their nation suffered greatly due to American embargoes yet we have been fair and supportive.

    This is an absolute act of war, boycott and sanction Cuba until these two local HEROES are home!

    Lisa Bickle

    September 18, 2018 at 9:32 pm

  12. I know Long and Simms to be outstanding individuals. I can only hope that they are released and allowed to return home to their families. I also hope that the accuser is held accountable for her lies. The pain and suffering she has caused over the past 6 months is inexcusable. One thing I will tell you, I won’t be travelling to Cuba again.

    Doug

    September 18, 2018 at 9:45 pm

  13. Why hasn’t a single Canadian cop interviewed her.
    This lying disturbed woman needs to be held accountable.
    She needs to tell the truth.

    Jimmy

    September 19, 2018 at 3:49 pm

  14. It’s a shame when some women take advantage of the #metoo movement and ruin it for real victims. Doesn’t sound like there’s much evidence or even credible story telling on her part. Also, legal age to even buy alcohol in Cuba is 18.. if the bars as serving her and she speaks in such a provocative way, I sure wouldn’t think she was 17. Regardless, 16 is age of consent in Canada and Cuba. In my opinion, her story does not sound like it’s the truth.. unrealistic even. Hopefully these men get to come home soon.. it’s been too long already!

    Emily J

    September 20, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    • If she was dragged from the pool through the lobby and up stairs there would have been resistance???? so probably lots of bruising.. but nothing came up on any physical report. And no one noticed this scene taking place..? Hm. My guess is she accused the guys of rape and then went right back out drinking, probably because it never happened and therefore she was able to continue her questionable behaviour on vacation.

      Ty Hargraves

      September 20, 2018 at 10:35 pm

  15. I can’t believe this is still going on. Why is our goverment not attempting to bring their citizens home? Everyone should be allowed a fair and unbiased trial, we cannot have this! Human rights are there for a reason so why are these two men denied theirs?

    Rob Thompson

    September 20, 2018 at 10:43 pm

  16. I hope that girl’s parents are proud of her behavoiur… she prides herself on ruining men’s lives. Give it a rest, honey you’re a joke.

    Linda Lee

    September 20, 2018 at 10:47 pm

  17. any updates Leo?

    Anon

    September 21, 2018 at 8:24 pm

  18. My heart goes out to these men. I’m praying they come home soon.

    June Mcleod

    September 22, 2018 at 1:00 am

  19. People please keep writing the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia FREELAND. There is zero evidence of the claims put forth by this girl. Having been there personally with my husband, it makes me sick to my stomach that she can live her life freely while these two men continue to try and live in this unjust place. I hope Canada steps up to the plate and brings these two wonderful men home!

    Sharon

    September 22, 2018 at 8:43 am

  20. I personally have stayed at the same resort these men did, the food sucks but this resort is BUSY.
    There is no way anyone gets dragged through that resort without people stepping in or seeing something.

    Iran and N Korea have returned hostages to America, N korea was as simple as Trump making a call and sending a staffer.

    Why doesn’t Trudeau just simply phone up Cuba, have a chat and respectfully take this case off their hands, try it here?
    Does Cuba really want the negative attention AND to pay for the legal fees?

    Maybe Omar Kadr can sympathize and share some of his 10 MILLION DOLLARS

    Beaverfacts

    September 23, 2018 at 9:30 am

  21. Hi Leo,

    I was in Varadero during the time that this alleged offence occurred and I have to say the accuser’s story is extremely unlikely, if not impossible. The resorts are riddled with people, from highschoolers, university students and families vacationing, especially during the time of spring break. I actually had left my resort a number of times to visit another resort because friends were staying there and it was the same case of business at theirs as it was at mine. The lobbies are incredibly busy, day or night, the pools are busy, the hallways and anywhere in between, you’re guaranteed to encounter other vacationers. For someone to be dragged 500 meters from a busy pool, through a more than likely busy lobby, all the way up to the guy’s room.. someone had to have seen her and/or heard her. The accusation simply isn’t believable. Was she in hysterics when she accused them of the crime a mere 30-40 minutes later downstairs in the lobby? Was she traumatized, looking dishevelled? Surely this would have been a very traumatic experience for her, being dragged through a resort, held down and raped.. yet no one saw anything that corroborates her story? Might I remind you all that this was in the middle of the day, too. I can without a doubt say that the resorts in Varadero were extremely busy during spring break, at full capacity. Her story sounds like a complete lie to me. My thoughts are with these two men. Hope the accuser does what is right and comes clean so these men can come home.

    Joe Dennison

    September 23, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    • Nicely put, Joe. I could not agree more

      Anon

      September 24, 2018 at 3:31 pm

  22. 5’10.. heavy-set build.. dragged through the resort and raped but no one saw this and there was no bruising or signs of force? I call bullshit.

    Christy Olson

    September 24, 2018 at 10:14 am

  23. This story should get more coverage than it has. With MORE than only one side (hers).. these men deserve to be heard. The injustice here is unreeeeal.

    Ben Cowley

    September 24, 2018 at 3:23 pm

  24. Who was she there with? her parents or was it something like a grad trip or…? Regardless, clearly whoever wasn’t doing their job correctly if she was left so unsupervised that she was being served alcoholic beverages and walking up to older men.. let alone following them in order to get herself alone with them. The men’s story makes 100x more sense than hers does. Game is over, time to come clean, girl!

    Alexis O

    September 24, 2018 at 4:09 pm


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