The public and media will be shut out of the long-delayed disciplinary trial of a Hamilton police inspector accused of having porn on his computer and sex on the job.
Hearing officer Robert Fitches agreed to conduct the trial of Insp. David Doel behind closed doors after concluding an unnamed coworker and her 12-year-old son could suffer “long lasting harm” if her identity is made public.
In a Dec. 14 written ruling, he said while such hearings should be open whenever possible, he had no other reasonable option in this case because he doesn’t have the power to prohibit the media from naming a woman he identified as “Ms. Y.”
Her lawyer had argued publicizing the details of her allegedly intimate relationship with Doel would humiliate her and potentially damage her son, family and marriage.
Fitches said he found “very compelling” an affidavit Ms. Y’s psychologist warning of the risk to her well-being and mental health, as well as concerns she might be unable to continue working in her job.
The retired OPP superintendent said he also worries public exposure will hurt her son’s relationships with friends and schoolmates given the power of social media to spread information.
“In my view, it would be unthinkable to knowingly expose this boy to that sort of humiliation,” Fitches stated in an 11-page ruling.
“If closing the hearing brings some disrepute upon the Hamilton Police Service, that damage can, over time, be mitigated or corrected.
“If, on the other hand, there is foreseeable damage caused to one or more of the people connected to these matters, there is no guarantee that such damage might be mitigated over time.”
The decision – opposed by police prosecutor Lynda Bordeleau and a lawyer for the Hamilton Spectator – comes after a recent ruling by Fitches that rejected Doel’s bid to close the hearing on privacy grounds.
That ruling prompted a motion by Doel’s lawyer, Harry Black, to have Fitches remove himself from the case, one scheduled to be argued on Feb. 11.
Doel, who earned $141,790 last year, has been on paid suspension since Oct. 23, 2009 on 14 Police Services Act charges.
Allegations against the former quality-assurance supervisor include that he engaged in sexual activity while on duty and had “pornographic and/or inappropriate material” on his work computer.
They also allege the Dundas resident’s actions toward a female and male co-worker between September 2008 and September 2009 were “prejudicial to discipline or likely to bring discredit upon the reputation” of Hamilton police.
The trial has hit repeated delays since an initial hearing date in February of 2010, including as a result of arguments over the disclosure of evidence and Doel’s undisclosed illness last fall that canceled two hearing days.