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OPP disciplinary charges in case involving Fantino dropped

ORILLIA, Ont. - Charges at the heart of a disciplinary matter involving provincial police Commissioner Julian Fantino were dropped Wednesday, the same day the cross-examination of Ontario's top police officer was to resume after being delayed by legal motions.

ORILLIA, Ont. - Charges at the heart of a disciplinary matter involving provincial police Commissioner Julian Fantino were dropped Wednesday, the same day the cross-examination of Ontario's top police officer was to resume after being delayed by legal motions.

The hearing into misconduct charges against two senior provincial police officers adjourned last fall when Fantino accused the adjudicator of bias during his cross-examination.

The bias accusation came when retired justice Leonard Montgomery remarked he was "upset" during Fantino's cross-examination last fall when he appeared to have changed his evidence over a lunch break.

In the ensuing year Fantino exhausted several legal avenues trying to get the adjudicator to recuse himself.

Ontario's Appeal Court ruled last month in favour of a lower court decision saying an informed person viewing the matter realistically and practically would not conclude there was any apprehension of bias on the part of the adjudicator.

Following that ruling, the hearing was set to resume Wednesday with the continuation of Fantino's cross-examination.

Instead, prosecutor Brian Gover rose to say the charges against Supt. Ken MacDonald and Insp. Alison Jevons were being withdrawn.

"This matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the prosecution and the subject officers outside the discipline process," he said.

Montgomery declared all the Police Services Act charges withdrawn, nearly three years after they were first laid.

"This is in the best interest of the subject officers and certainly in the best interest of the administration of justice," he said.

MacDonald and Jevons did not comment after the hearing, but their lawyer Julian Falconer said they are "relieved to get on with their careers."

The defence has alleged that Fantino only laid the charges to appease the police union and because he suspected MacDonald of leaking information. During the disciplinary hearings, Falconer has also accused Fantino of witness tampering and political interference.

"I agree with the manner in which this case has been resolved. However, I have not had an opportunity to respond to the serious allegations made against me during the abuse of process motion," Fantino said in a statement Wednesday.

"The allegations made against me were made in the privileged environment of the hearing room. Those allegations are not true."

The labyrinthine affair began in April 2004, when Susan Cole of Gananoque, Ont., called 911 to say her estranged husband, a provincial police sergeant, had taken a baseball bat to her car.

Cole complained the responding officers asked her to leave her home rather than arrest her spouse - a provincial police officer.

MacDonald and Jevons investigated Cole's complaint, and concluded the responding officers had not followed proper procedure.



From her home in Gananoque, Ont., Cole said she would have liked to see Fantino apologize to MacDonald and Jevons, who she called the only people to take her complaint seriously.

Honorable people were turned into victims, Cole said, but now she feels both she and the two officers have been vindicated.

"I felt it kind of confirmed the charges were baseless," she said.

 
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