Canada: Ottawa deputy chief says he was victim of extortion attempt, defends himself in sex harassment complaint - - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada Ottawa deputy chief says he was victim of extortion attempt, defends himself in sex harassment complaint

02:10  09 november  2019
02:10  09 november  2019 Source:   ottawacitizen.com

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Ottawa police Deputy Chief Uday Jaswal is defending himself against sexual harassment allegations, saying he was the victim of an extortion attempt by the husband of his accuser, according to new human rights documents.

The extortion allegations are detailed in the deputy chief’s response to a human rights complaint filed by a female civilian police employee.

Jaswal denies any sexual harassment and says instead that they had a “long-standing friendship” that sparked Jaswal’s romantic interest but only because he didn’t know she was in a serious relationship.

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In Jaswal’s response he also says that what the woman described as unwanted touching was unintentional, awkward fumbling which the deputy chief immediately apologized for.

“Independent testimony in this matter will clearly demonstrate that this matter is only before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario because (Jaswal) accepted the risk of personal embarrassment, rather than undermining his integrity and breaching his ethical obligations by interfering in a hiring process,” says the response.

The woman filed a human rights complaint in August. She alleged Jaswal made repeated unwanted advances toward her and when those advances were spurned Jaswal interfered in her attempts to be hired as a police officer.

Jaswal and the woman met in 2006 when Jaswal was dating the woman’s roommate. They hung out socially and Jaswal considered her a friend and confidante.

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In 2015, Jaswal, then a superintendent at the force, learned through official police channels that the woman, who was working as an Ottawa Police Service civilian employee, had been sexually assaulted.

“Having had a long-standing friendship with the (woman), (he) reached out to (her) to see how she was doing. This was not an uncommon practice for (Jaswal) who would routinely reach out to members across the organization who had been impacted by incidents or events,” says the response.

Later in 2015, Jaswal became the superintendent in charge of the unit where the woman was working. He began to see her several times a month when he went to her workplace as a superintendent. He became romantically interested in the woman.

“Owing to their past friendship and seeing the (woman) on a semi-regular basis, (Jaswal) became interested in the applicant. (He) admits asking the applicant out for coffee.”

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They did meet for coffee, where Jaswal “had a genuine interest” in the woman. Jaswal said he doesn’t recall the woman mentioning a relationship with another Ottawa police officer.

Jaswal admits sending the woman several texts between December of 2015 and January 2016 and suggesting that a promotion “is the kind of thing” he could could help with, but says he meant that he could mentor her, something he’s offered to dozens of people in the service over the years and had “done so freely and without any expectation of anything in return.”

According to his response, “It was never (his) intention to interfere with a promotional process, nor did he speak to any one or take any action which could influence or bias such a process.”

It was only in May 2016, several months after he asked her out, Jaswal says, that the woman “finally and clearly, divulged the existence of a serious relationship and advised that she was not single and was not interested in meeting (Jaswal) socially. (He) was taken aback by the (woman’s) comment but respected that she did not want to meet or communicate socially.”

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Jaswal left the Ottawa Police Service to take a job as deputy chief in Durham Region. He returned to the capital as this city’s deputy chief in September 2018.

In January 2019, both Jaswal and the woman attended a retirement party at Ottawa police headquarters where the woman alleges that Jaswal “intentionally and overtly rubbed his hand across (her) stomach and hip area.”

Jaswal says he tried to work his way around a crowded room and inadvertently touched the woman. The woman “was standing near where coffee could be obtained as (Jaswal) made his way through the crowded room. (He) stumbled in that area and did place his hand on the (woman). Immediately upon doing so, (he) apologized.”

Jaswal, in his response, says he felt awkward about the whole thing and ended up leaving the party a few minutes later.

“The incident was clumsy and unfortunate but it was not intentional.”

On June 7, 2019, Jaswal says the woman’s husband reached out to him. The man told Jaswal that the woman had applied to become a police officer and wasn’t hired and asked him to help. Jaswal said he didn’t even know the woman had applied and had nothing to do with the hiring process.

That evening, Jaswal called the inspector in charge of recruiting, who “noted that the process was fair and impartial and that it concluded that the applicant was not a suitable candidate to be a police constable.”

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Jaswal was also told that there were issues with the woman’s background check. He called the man to tell him that there were concerns with the woman’s application.

The man, also a police officer, asked Jaswal to intervene and the deputy chief said he couldn’t.

“At that point, (the man) advised that he was ‘calling in a chit,’ stating that ‘I have never shown the texts before’.”

According to Jaswal’s response, “It has since been discovered that (the man) made repeated efforts to try and influence (Jaswal) into interfering in the selection process. These interactions were documented independently by other officers.”

The man “threatened to disclose text messages to the Police Services Board and the media and he boasted about knowing an Adjudicator at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario who could help him write a complaint against (Jaswal) should (he) not intervene on the (woman’s) behalf.“

Jaswal notified then interim chief Steve Bell of what happened on June 14.

At the request of the police board, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission is investigating the allegations made in the woman’s complaint.

Jaswal remains as deputy chief of the police service during the investigation.

None of the allegations in either the woman’s complaint or Jaswal’s response has yet been tested.

This newspaper is not naming either the woman or her husband in order to protect her identity as a previous victim of sexual assault.

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