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Toronto cop says she was punished for reporting sexual harassment
A Toronto police officer has filed a human rights complaint, saying she was unfairly disciplined for accusing a fellow officer of rampant sexual harassment.
Sgt. Jessica McInnis, a 20-year veteran, claims she received thousands of text messages over a two-year period from Det. Mark Morris. She alleges that many of them contained sexual language, graphic pictures and videos.
In one exchange from April 2016, McInnis claims Morris wrote: “Hey jess..Anna and I are close to your building. Hou awake.” She responded “hahahhahh,” to which Morris wrote, “I guess that’s a no...Anna and I are out.”
McInnis messaged back asking, “Who is Anna?” She claims Morris responded: “ANACONDA silly.”
McInnis’s lawyer, Barry Swadron, said “anaconda” was a reference to Morris’s penis.
“That's what he called it,” Swadron said.
McInnis complained to her supervisor but was ignored.
After an internal investigation was triggered, both she and Morris were docked eight hours of pay.
“Jessica shouldn't have been punished at all for coming forward,” Swadron says.
Toronto City Councillor Shelley Carroll, who is a member of the police services board, says McInnis was disciplined for not reporting the texts right away.
“If you do receive something like that you must and should report it immediately, to protect not only yourself but all other women officers,” Carroll said.
McInnis’s complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario names several officers, a supervisor and the chief of police.
Police spokesperson Mark Pugash issued a statement saying police “will be defending these allegations vigorously.”
Morris’s lawyer, David Butt, said in a written statement that the allegations against his client “are either false or deliberately misleading” and “they will be vigorously contested.”
McInnis has been transferred to another police detachment.
The allegations have not been tested in court.
With a report from CTV National News reporter Peter Akman in Toronto