After public pressure was applied to police in Toronto, it seems that an investigation into an assault case against a Toronto pro-life activist is finally proceeding.

In early June, Bill Whatcott was assaulted and had his pro-life sign stolen from him when he demonstrated across from a downtown Toronto abortuary. As The Interim reported last month, police were slow to respond to Whatcott’s complaint.

He subsequently complained about police foot-dragging in the case. Originally, the police indicated that the case would not be investigated.

When he filed his complaint against the police, a secretary at 51 Division told Whatcott that the badge number (5080) he filed a complaint about didn’t exist.

Only after media coverage and small demonstrations at 51 division and police headquarters did it seem the police were investigating Whatcott’s assault.

Detective Christine Long, a public complaints investigator at 51 Division, told The Interim that she is in middle of her investigation and that her findings are incomplete.

However, she said the secretary “made an honest error” when she said the badge number did not exist, concluding “there was no misconduct on her part.”

Long also explained that anyone who makes a criminal complaint should be patient. First, there is a primary fact-gathering investigation which is often quick. The cursory findings are then used in a more detailed investigation. Long said the police are currently at that stage in the criminal investigation.

However Sgt. Dave Hogan of 51 Division told Whatcott he should use small claims court to get compensation for his destroyed sign, and said the police would not assist him or look any further into the matter. Furthermore, the police did not respond to Whatcott’s calls about the assault until the day after the incident occurred.

Long said that there is no indication that the police acted improperly. That position will be hard to maintain, however, after listening to a tape of a conversation Whatcott had with Sgt. Hogan. Whatcott taped the conversation and took notes for documentary purposes.

Hogan was dismissive of Whatcott’s criminal complaint, and told Whatcott he was “becoming a nuisance.” He also constantly ridiculed Whatcott, telling him to “write that down,” whenever Hogan made a disparaging comment.

Hogan replied to Whatcott’s inquiry into why the police were not pursuing the assault by saying, “You look fine. Write that down.” He told Whatcott to “stop coming in here and bothering us” because “we have serious police work to do.” Hogan’s comments left Whatcott with the impression that investigation of assault is not considered “serious police work.”

Meanwhile, a witness, Catherine McMillan of 99 Harbour Square, confirms Whatcott’s story. McMillan told The Interim Whatcott was “aggressively attacked” when a man stopped his car, got out and “proceeded with determination” to forcibly take Whatcott’s sign. She said Whatcott did not provoke him and did not retaliate.

Moments before The Interim went to press, it was learned that Simon Brownstone, 43, of Toronto, was charged July 19 with mischief under $5,000. He will appear in court at College Park on Aug. 23.