On the heels of an alleged assault against Toronto pro-life demonstrator Bill Whatcott, another pro-life activist says he has been physically attacked – not just once, but three times by two different individuals. And, as in Whatcott’s case, police seem to be dragging their feet in investigating the incidents.
Robert Hinchey, a counsellor with the Aid to Women crisis pregnancy centre on Gerrard Street East in Toronto, right beside the “Cabbagetown Women’s Clinic,” says two of the attacks were perpetrated by the driver of a medical waste disposal truck that regularly pulls up to the Cabbagetown abortuary and carts away boxes apparently containing the remains of aborted preborn babies.
Whatcott was allegedly accosted in early June and had to stage a lengthy lobbying campaign, including a picket outside Toronto police headquarters, before police on July 19 charged 43-year-old Simon Brownstone of Toronto with mischief under $5,000. Even then, Judge K. Madigan dismissed the charge at the request of Crown attorney John Scutt at a hearing Aug. 23.
Hinchey says that in his first incident, early in the morning of July 15, he decided to try to take close-up photos of the waste disposal boxes in the back of the truck. “I thought it would have a lot of emotional impact” to show those photos to others, Hinchey said. “My goal was to photograph the boxes containing the dead babies, not the man transporting the boxes.”
He said the truck, belonging to the Med-Tech medical waste disposal firm in Brampton, Ont., was parked around the corner from the Cabbagetown abortuary. As Hinchey approached the back of the truck and snapped a Polaroid photo of the boxes sitting there, the driver of the truck lunged at him and grabbed the just-developed photo from his hands, he alleges.
The driver then allegedly dared Hinchey to take another photo, while the driver offered to stand to the side. After Hinchey snapped another photo, the man once again rushed at him and took the print away.
“He then dropped his gloves and clenched his fists in a threatening pose,” he said, adding that there was a witness to the goings-on.
The driver stepped into the abortuary for about 15 minutes, before re-emerging and allegedly threatening to “rip” Hinchey’s head apart. Hinchey says he had a sound recorder with him and made a tape of the threat.
When he telephoned police to report what he saw as cases of assault, threatening and theft (of the photographs), the officer at the other end of the line suggested Hinchey was interfering with the business of the truck and its driver. The officer then put Hinchey on hold for about five minutes, before coming back on line to recommend that Hinchey go see a justice of the peace about the matter.
Instead, Hinchey consulted a lawyer, who advised him to take photographs of the truck driver the next time he was seen at the abortuary.
Early in the morning of July 27, Hinchey says the Med-Tech truck once again pulled up around the corner of the Cabbagetown abortuary, and he could see the same driver bringing in unassembled boxes for abortuary staff. Hinchey, who on this occasion was holding the fort at Aid to Women with the help of Dunville, Ont. volunteer George Eygenraam, rushed outside with his Polaroid camera.
He started snapping pictures as soon as he saw the truck driver walking toward his vehicle, carting a stack of boxes extending over his head. That didn’t sit too well with the driver, who allegedly rammed into Hinchey with the trolley, toppling the boxes and scattering them all over the pavement.
Hinchey says Eygenraam, an older man, tried to intervene, and a brief scuffle broke out between him and the driver. The men wrestled with each other, but no punches were thrown. Hinchey says he snapped a photo while this was occurring.
After disengaging from Eygenraam, the driver allegedly turned on Hinchey and on several occasions shoved the Polaroid camera back into Hinchey’s face, causing a cut and, later, swelling and a bruise.
Hinchey says that on this occasion, police responded, and were “polite, helpful and friendly.” They even sent over an official photographer to take pictures of his injury. But he suspects their sunny disposition was more an attempt to allay the possibilities of another lobbying campaign of the sort that
accompanied the alleged assault on Whatcott, than a result of a desire to see justice done in the case at hand. “I don’t think they’re going to do anything about it,” he predicted.
To date, Hinchey’s premonitions have come true. Although police promised to get back to him within a week with an update on how they were proceeding, he had still not heard back from them several weeks after the second incident.
In the meantime, Hinchey says he intends to follow up with the police, while approaching a justice of the peace with a complaint about the first alleged incident. “If the police had followed up the first time, the second incident wouldn’t have happened because I wouldn’t have had to have gotten a photo.”
In a third, unrelated incident, Hinchey says he was walking back toward the Aid to Women office along Gerrard Street Aug. 5 when he came across a car pulling up in front of the Cabbagetown abortuary. A woman who emerged from the vehicle was met by four individuals – three women and a man – who apparently were acting as volunteer escorts for the abortuary’s customers.
Hinchey says the abortuary has been using escorts, who vary in number, almost every day for over a month. The escorts sometimes use a video camera to take footage of pro-life demonstrators and counsellors in the area.
Hinchey says that as he walked toward Aid to Woman, the male escort physically blocked his way with his body, not letting him pass. The man, whom Hinchey described as being fairly big at about 6 feet tall and 185 pounds, ultimately threw what Hinchey describes as a “body check,” causing Hinchey to fall back and strike his head against the corner of a building which was covered with ceramic tile.