The head of the Toronto police intelligence unit was charged with sexual harassment yesterday after an internal investigation fuelled by complaints from numerous police staff.
Staff Insp. Steve Izzett faces nine charges under the Police Act, including oppressive and tyrannical behaviour, deceit, abuse of authority and misconduct related to an investigation.
Izzett, who was up for promotion last year and has been suspended since last fall, will appear before an internal tribunal April 27, following an investigation by the professional standards unit that began in mid-September.
The charges will be outlined fully following his April appearance, Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash said yesterday.
The investigation was launched when a detective sergeant in Izzett's unit complained she was sexually harassed. Since then, more people have come forward with allegations of abuse and bullying. Sources said yesterday the number of complainants is in the "double digits."
It has not been revealed whether the complainants were in Izzett's unit, or how long ago the alleged incidents occurred.
Izzett was considered one of the top officers within the Toronto Police Service. As head of a major unit, he was only a few rungs below the chief. Izzett had held his position for about two years before the investigation began.
As commander of Intelligence Services, he was in charge of investigations into hate crimes, outlaw motorcycle gangs and organized crime.
The unit's primary responsibility is to assemble criminal intelligence and deal with confidential information.
Since his suspension last fall, every weekday morning Izzett drives from his Durham home to Toronto police headquarters at Yonge and College Sts.
But instead of taking the elevators to his office, he signs in at the duty desk and goes back to his car. He signs out at 4 p.m. each day.
While few details about the original allegations have emerged, the initial complainant requested from the outset that her file be dealt with by Professional Standards and not become a criminal investigation, sources said. Because of that, only Police Services Act charges were laid against Izzett. He has not been charged criminally.
When the allegations surfaced in September, the Special Investigations Unit became involved briefly. The SIU probes incidents involving police and civilians where there is death, injury or sexual assault. SIU officials confirmed at the time they completed a preliminary inquiry into the matter on Sept. 17 and referred it back to Toronto police.
Professional Standards can issue criminal charges – if they are warranted – in addition to taking non-criminal disciplinary action.
When an officer is found guilty by an internal tribunal, the hearing officers decide on his or her penalty. This could range from dismissal to demotion or a reprimand.