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80 arrested in province-wide child porn investigation
I helped move incinerator, Millard's girlfriend tells Tim Bosma murder trial
Police have charged 80 Ontario residents with a total of 274 offences after a sweeping, multi-force investigation into child sexual abuse and child pornography.
“Child pornography is the sexual abuse of our children,” Ontario Provincial Police Chief Supt. Don Bell told a news conference Thursday. “Every image of child pornography represents a child victim. Every trading or transmission of that image represents a re-victimization of that child.”
The OPP worked with the RCMP, Canadian Border Services Agency, Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and 26 local police departments to make the arrests.
“This isn’t a crime specific to Canada,” said Homeland Security Special Agent Aaron Chapman. “We have a shared responsibility in the United States to combine all our efforts to combat this horrendous crime.”
Moments before the news conference, the OPP released the names, ages and charges of most of the people captured during the investigation. At least one person’s identity was withheld because they are underage.
The charges include sexual assault, possessing child pornography, making child pornography, distributing child pornography, accessing child pornography, luring a child, and drug and weapons offences.
The OPP said more charges are pending.
ONTARIO PROVINCIAL POLICE:List of people charged
Over the past 90 days, investigators collected 2,038 unique IP addresses of people suspected of downloading child pornography or visiting child porn sites.
“The internet provides the perfect tool for people to be able to go out and find this material,” said OPP Det. Staff Sgt. Frank Goldschmidt.
Investigators were also able to identify 20 victims of child exploitation and refer them to community-based assistance programs. Police say there was also some overlap with human trafficking investigations, and they were able to ensure the safety of nine people who had been working in the sex trade as minors.
“The sweep that was carried out over the past few days serves as another wakeup call to those who commit these monstrous crimes against our children,” Bell said.
The investigation was part of Ontario’s Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet, launched in 2006.
Inside the Ontario NDP?s union-funded holding company
The former girlfriend of a man facing a murder charge in the death of Tim Bosma will be back on the witness stand today.
The Hamilton Spectator’s Molly Hayes and Susan Clairmont are covering the trial.
On Wednesday, Christina Noudga told the Hamilton court she helped Dellen Millard move his animal incinerator, dubbed “The Eliminator,” from the barn on his property near Waterloo, Ont., to the middle of the bush on the sprawling property.
She said she put on gloves, as did Millard, to help him move the huge piece of machinery.
Millard, 30, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 28, of Oakville, Ont., have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Bosma's death.
The Crown alleges Bosma was shot at point-blank range in his truck and his body later burned in that incinerator. Investigators later found two human bones and numerous bone fragments in the incinerator and blood, likely Bosma's according to a DNA analysis, was found on the outside of the machine.
Bosma vanished on May 6, 2013 after taking two strangers for a test drive in the truck he was trying to sell.
Noudga, expected to be one of the prosecution’s star witnesses, often had trouble recalling details under questioning by Crown attorney Tony Leitch.
Court heard that Noudga has been charged as an accessory after the fact to the murder of Bosma and will have her own trial in November.
When asked by Leitch why they moved the incinerator, she said Millard “said he wanted to move it because the floor boards (in the barn) were getting creaky, so we should move it.”
She testified earlier Wednesday about wanting to see Millard that week, but he was tied up on a lengthy “mission” that began the night of May 6, 2013.
On May 9, court heard, Millard picked her up at her home in Toronto and gave her a digital video recorder. She said she hid it in her closet, where it remained for nearly a year until she was arrested in connection with the murder.
She said she thought nothing of it even after her boyfriend was charged with the murder of Bosma in 2013.
“Ever consider taking it to police?” Leitch asked.
“Honestly, I didn’t think it was related,” Noudga said, adding she thought it was a stereo.
Court has already seen video extracted from the device that showed a truck hauling what appears to be “The Eliminator” outside Millard’s hangar in Waterloo, Ont.
The video also shows two men walking through the hangar early on May 7, hours after Bosma disappeared. Flares are seen coming from the incinerator.
After she put the device in her closet, Noudga said she drove with Millard in his truck — hauling a large trailer — to his mother’s house in Kleinburg, Ont.
She said she helped him park the trailer against the garage, so close the back doors couldn’t be opened.
She said Millard’s mother came out and asked why he was leaving the trailer there, which he didn't answer.
“At this point, we are both extremely stoned,” Noudga said, laughing.
Then the pair drove to Millard’s hangar — he inherited his father’s aviation business — and she said she never discussed the “mission” Millard said he had been conducting the previous days. Those were the days after Bosma disappeared.
Court saw numerous text messages between Noudga and Millard, many of them discussing the “mission” Millard was conducting. She said she didn't have much time to discuss why he had been so aloof the previous days because of a “sexual act” on that ride to the hangar.
She said she never asked him details about the mission and was not aware of Millard’s plans to steal a truck, which others have testified about.
Earlier, a Hamilton police officer testified about seizing letters in Noudga’s bedroom that appeared to come from Millard while he was in jail.
Refusal to revoke doctor?s licence leaves CPSO ?disappointed? by its own panel
Ontario’s NDP set up a secretive union-financed holding company to help bankroll election campaigns and serve as its landlord at party headquarters, the Star has learned.
The Ontario Cornerstone Leadership Corporation, a privately held firm that owns the downtown Toronto office building housing the provincial NDP, has an elaborate corporate structure straight out of Bay Street.
It is unclear what impact the looming reforms to Ontario’s lax political fundraising laws — including a proposed ban on union and corporate donations — will have on Cornerstone.
But it is possible a ban on contributions to political parties from unions and corporations would lead to an unravelling of the arrangement. That would put extra pressure on the NDP, which still has a $5-million debt from the 2014 election campaign, to dig itself out of a deep financial hole.
Related:NDP’s righteous rhetoric rings hollow: Cohn
The New Democrats support some revamp of the fundraising system though they have never specified exactly what they want. They oppose the governing Liberals’ legislative approach, instead preferring a non-partisan public consultation.
While Cornerstone’s existence has been known for years, the NDP always maintained the corporation was separate from and had no direct financial connections to the political party or its campaigns.
The Star has obtained the previously secret shareholders’ agreement from Sept. 9, 2009 that shows Cornerstone, which owns 101 Richmond St. E., is a complex corporate entity where the NDP controls all of the Class A common shares.
All of the Class B common shares are owned by eight public-sector and private-sector unions or their locals. These shareholders have fewer powers than the NDP with its Class A shares.
Any dividends from the shares are reinvested into the company unless the unpaid board of directors decides otherwise. Each union has a seat on the board, the NDP has one seat.
That corporate structure is not illegal. But it appears to challenge past assertions by the NDP that the party had an arm’s-length relationship with Cornerstone.
Requests for an interview with NDP Leader Andrea Horwath to discuss Cornerstone were declined by her office.
New Democrat House leader Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay) insisted the party’s current concerns over Premier Kathleen Wynne’s reforms to political fundraising have nothing to do with Cornerstone.
Bisson implied Cornerstone is a bit of a mystery even to New Democrats at Queen’s Park.
“I don’t really understand how Cornerstone is set up. I thought it was to buy a building,” said Bisson, co-chair of the 2014 NDP campaign.
In a 2011 interview with journalist Jonathan Jenkins, then of the Toronto Sun, Horwath said Cornerstone “has no role whatsoever in our campaign.”
“None whatsoever. It’s a separate corporation, separate board of directors. There’s no financial connection whatsoever. It’s completely separate. Not a dime,” she said at the time.
“We have some unions that guarantee our loans, we have this separate, completely separate organization, a completely separate entity called Cornerstone that guarantees some of our loans.”
However, the shareholders’ agreement shows Cornerstone and the party are deeply entwined.
“The corporation shall, upon request from time to time by the ONDP and in compliance with applicable law, provide such guarantees, liens, and other financial assistance and such further assurances and instruments in respect thereof, as the ONDP may request from time to time to assist in financing its activities,” it states.
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation president Paul Elliott, whose union helped create the Cornerstone, said the company was launched to bolster the New Democrats.
“We wanted to ensure there was a progressive voice in the political landscape in Ontario. This was created when Howard Hampton was the leader of the NDP and at the time we (were) concerned about the ability of the NDP to compete against the Liberals and Conservatives,” said Elliott.
Elections Ontario data shows that during the 2014 provincial election, Cornerstone guaranteed a $6-million loan to the NDP to pay for the campaign.
The party in turn paid Cornerstone $273,904.56 for “office and equipment rent” that year. The corporation, which purchased 101 Richmond St. E. for $3.1 million nine years ago, does not have a listed phone number or a website.
Derek Johnstone, the Ontario regional director of the United Food and Commercial Workers, another Cornerstone shareholder, said “this was an investment that we made over a decade ago.”
“It’s an investment that we are active in — in terms of doing our due diligence for the members’ resources. We have one member on the board and in terms of any changes to the legislation here in Ontario we’re, of course, monitoring it,” he said, referring to the upcoming bill on political fundraising.
“UFCW, of course, will comply with any legislation that’s passed as we’ve done in every other province.”
Cornerstone board chair Anne Healy — who is also executive assistant to the national secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), another shareholder in the corporation — said “we won’t know how any new legislation will affect us until it is tabled.”
“The Cornerstone board will look at any new legislation when details are available to see how it will affect our operations, but until then we don’t think speculation is a useful exercise,” said Healy.
Bob Gallagher, communications and political action department head of the United Steelworkers, Cornerstone’s largest shareholder, said the union is “proud of our support of the Ontario New Democratic Party.’
“We also strongly support reforms to the election financing legislation that would eliminate political contributions from corporations and unions,” said Gallager.
“We support an open dialogue between all parties to determine the scope of any new legislation regarding election financing. Once consensus by all parties is achieved we will then be able to understand the future implications,” he said.
Political fundraising reforms have been on the front-burner since the Star’s March 29 story about Liberal cabinet ministers having party fundraising targets of up to $500,000 apiece.
Wynne scrambled to announce legislative changes in the wake of the exposé.
The Liberal bill expected to be tabled next month will ban corporate and union donations, reduce annual contributions to a maximum of $1,525 from $9,975, and close a slew of loopholes.
But the New Democrats — as well as the Progressive Conservatives and the Greens — oppose the way Wynne is revamping fundraising.
Horwath, backed by Conservative Leader Patrick Brown and Green Leader Mike Schreiner, tried unsuccessfully last week to strike a new non-partisan committee to design the changes.
Bisson emphasized there was no self-interest in the party’s bid to have a say in the fundraising reforms.
“If you want to ban union (and) corporate donations, we can live with that. But there’s got to be a process by which . . . everybody gets it, it’s transparent . . . ,” he said, arguing that Wynne is trying to rush through changes without adequately consulting opposition parties, stakeholders, or the public.
Airstrikes kill at least 60 in Syria?s Aleppo city, MSF-backed Al-Quds hospital hit
Dr. Javad Peirovy sexually abused four female patients in the span of one year at a walk-in clinic, leaving them “traumatized” — the word used by a discipline panel of Ontario’s medical watchdog.
On Wednesday, that same panel decided that Peirovy was fit to keep his licence. Instead of revoking it, they suspended him. In six months, the Toronto doctor will be back at work.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons’ lawyer had requested that the panel, which is independent of the college, revoke his licence.
The college proposed last year that provincial legislation be amended so that “all physical sexual contact between a physician and patient” would lead to mandatory revocation.
A provincial task force, created 16 months ago following a Star investigation into doctors still at work after sexually abusing their patients, is on the cusp of delivering a much-anticipated report to the government on the issue.
The college took the rare step of issuing a statement to the Star on Wednesday.
“The College is disappointed in the discipline panel’s decision not to revoke Dr. Peirovy’s licence,” said college registrar Dr. Rocco Gerace.
“Council supports revisions to the legislation that would require mandatory revocation in any case where physical sexual contact with a patient is proven to have occurred.”
Current legislation makes revocation mandatory for nearly every other form of sexual abuse, including penetration, oral sex and masturbation. But sexual touching remains a grey area, and revocation is entirely at the discretion of the discipline committee panel hearing the case.
“This has been my concern all along, and I see the college (discipline committee) refuses to act unless pushed specifically and directly by the government,” said medical malpractice lawyer Amani Oakley. “This (decision) is not a logical way to proceed when they themselves have recognized that this is sexual abuse.”
Peirovy was found guilty by the panel last July of “acts of professional misconduct in that he engaged in the sexual abuse” of four patients.
In the case of two patients, Ms U and Ms V, he placed his stethoscope on their nipples and cupped their breasts. Regarding Ms W and Ms X, he touched their nipples when “there was no clinical reason” to examine the women in that way, the panel found.
He denied the allegations before the committee, and his lawyer, David Porter, declined to comment on Tuesday.
Peirovy was also found to have demonstrated conduct that was “disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional” in telling a fifth patient that they could see each other socially.
He pleaded guilty in criminal court in 2013 to two counts of simple assault, after being initially charged with sexually assaulting six female patients. He had earlier pleaded not guilty to sexual assault in those two cases, and the charges relating to the other four women were withdrawn by the Crown.
Peirovy was given a conditional discharge and 18 months’ probation and was ordered by the court to take counselling.
He is at low risk to reoffend and can practise on female patients safely in the presence of a female chaperone who must also be a health professional, found the four-member discipline panel, chaired by former CPSO president Dr. Marc Gabel, along with Drs. John Watts and Robert Sheppard and community member Diane Doherty.
“To me, any physician who has deliberately sexually abused his patients should be subject to revocation. Full stop,” said medical malpractice lawyer Paul Harte.
Gabel declined to comment through CPSO spokeswoman Kathryn Clarke.
“Decisions of the discipline committee stand on their own and reasons for the decision are provided in detail,” she said.
Evidence presented at Peirovy’s penalty hearing showed that “he is sincerely embarrassed at and ashamed of his actions, and that he never wants this to happen again,” the panel wrote in its 16-page decision.
The members placed “substantive weight” on the expert evidence of a forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Rootenberg, who is identified only as “Dr. M” in the decision.
He found Peirovy is at a low risk to reoffend and he’s “worked hard to understand his inappropriate behaviour” by also working with a medical professional who specializes in boundary issues.
The committee accepted Dr. M’s evidence that Peirovy can improve through professional training and counselling.
“The rehabilitative needs of Dr. Peirovy have been addressed. Specific and general deterrence have also been served,” the panel wrote, also ordering Peirovy to pay $35,000 in costs.
“The penalty, in the view of the committee, is consistent with similar penalties previously imposed by the discipline committee in similar cases.”
The College has taken some action since the Star’s 2013 investigation. It now posts more disciplinary information about doctors on its website, including whether physicians are facing criminal charges, and has said it will consider sharing more information with police.
The prominent Toronto plastic surgeon lost his licence last year after a disciplinary panel found him guilty of professional misconduct for having sex with a patient who was also his lover. He is appealing his revocation to Divisional Court, arguing that it violates his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He is still practising pending that appeal.
The former Hospital for Sick Children emergency room pediatrician lost his licence last year after he was found to have engaged in “very instrusive and coercive sexual activities” with a 17-year-old girl who was not his patient. His behaviour was “manipulative” and “predatory,” concluded a disciplinary panel. The incident took place at a summer camp when the girl was a camp counsellor and he was the camp physician. Minnes lost his appeal in Divisional Court.
The Burlington doctor was found to have sexually abused three of his patients and pressured them to drop complaints against him. He groomed the three over a 20-year period for sex, and two ended up with depression and anxiety, according to an agreed statement of fact filed at his discipline hearing.
The Toronto pediatrician lost his licence last year after the discipline committee found he engaged in “sexual impropriety” with a patient in January 1979. The panel found he subjected the teenaged patient to “protracted sexual stimulation with him” at a health clinic. She only came forward in 2008 after seeing his name on television in relation to other professional misconduct allegations.
BEIRUT—A wave of airstrikes and shelling killed more than 60 people in less than 24 hours in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, monitors and activists said Thursday. The contested city is now one of the main battlegrounds of Syria’s devastating civil war, with a ceasefire that has collapsed and peace talks in Geneva stalled.
At least 27 people died as a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and nearby buildings were hit overnight in the rebel-held part of Aleppo.
The UN envoy for Syria appealed early Thursday on the U.S. and Russia to help revive the peace talks and a ceasefire, which he said “hangs by a thread.”
However, the violence only escalated. New airstrikes Thursday in residential areas in the rebel-held part of the city killed at least 20 while state media reported that at least 1,000 mortars and rockets were fired at government-held areas of Aleppo, killing at least 14 civilians.
The chief Syrian opposition negotiator Mohammed Alloush blamed the government of President Bashar Assad for the violence. He told The Associated Press that it shows “the environment is not conducive to any political action.”
About 200 civilians have been killed in the past week, nearly half of them around Aleppo. There has also been shelling in Damascus, along with a car bombing — both rarities for the capital. The ICRC said the fighting, including the destruction in airstrikes overnight of a key hospital in Aleppo, is putting millions at grave risk.
With peace talks in Geneva completely deadlocked, Syrians are regarding the escalating bloodshed with dread, fearing that Aleppo is likely to be the focus of the next phase of the war.
Rebel commanders said government forces have been mobilizing soldiers, equipment and ammunition in preparation for a military action in Aleppo.
The well-known Al-Quds field hospital supported by MSF and ICRC and located in the rebel-held district of Sukkari was hit shortly before midnight Wednesday, according to opposition activists and rescue workers. Six hospital staff and three children were among the 27 who died there.
The Syrian Civil Defence, a volunteer first-responders agency whose members went to the scene of the attack, put the death toll at 30 and said the dead included six hospital staff. Among those slain was one of the last pediatricians remaining in opposition-held areas of the contested city and a dentist.
The defence agency, also known as the White Helmets, said the hospital and adjacent buildings were struck in four consecutive airstrikes. It said there were still victims buried under the rubble and that the rescue work continued. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said three children were among the 27 victims but it was not immediately clear if they were patients at the hospital.
MSF said in a statement that at least 14 patients and staff were among those killed, with the toll expected to rise. “Destroyed MSF-supported hospital in Aleppo was well known locally and hit by direct airstrike,” it said.
“This devastating attack has destroyed a vital hospital in Aleppo, and the main referral centre for pediatric care in the area,” said Muskilda Zancada, MSF head of Syria mission. “Where is the outrage among those with the power and obligation to stop this carnage?”
The 34-bed, multi-storey hospital had an emergency room and offered services such as obstetric care, outpatient and inpatient treatment. It had an intensive care unit and an operating theatre. Eight doctors and 28 nurses worked full time in the hospital, the MSF said. It has supported the hospital since 2012, the aid group said.
An unnamed Syrian military official quoted on state TV denied reports that the hospital was targeting, saying they were false.
A video posted online by the White Helmets showed a number of lifeless bodies, including those of children, being pulled out from a building and loaded into ambulances amid screaming and wailing. It also showed distraught rescue workers trying to keep onlookers away from the scene, apparently fearing more airstrikes.
Shortly after midday, new airstrikes in rebel-held areas killed at least 20 people in two neighbourhoods, the Syrian Civil Defence and the Observatory said.
Videos provided by activists show scenes of dust rising up from buildings on fire as men and women run away from collapsing houses and children cry, looking for their parents. In one clip, a man is seen lifting his daughter out of the rubble.
State media said at least 1,300 rockets and missiles fell in residential areas in government controlled parts of the city, killing 14 people on Thursday.
Alloush, who was one of the leading negotiators of the opposition in the Geneva talks, described the airstrikes as one of the latest “war crimes” of Assad’s government.
“Whoever carries out these massacres needs a war tribunal and a court of justice to be tried for his crimes. He does not need a negotiating table,” Alloush told the AP in a telephone interview. “Now, the environment is not conducive for any political action.”