Woman tells court Toronto police officer sexually assaulted her
A woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by a Toronto police officer testified that she once thought no one would believe her if she came forward with her account of being raped by a cop.
But years later — after becoming a police officer herself, and working on a sexual assault case — the woman took the stand at the first day of the trial against the man she says sexually assaulted her in her home in 2008.
“Now I can write that a Toronto cop raped me, no problem, but I couldn't write that then,” said the woman, whose name is covered by a publication ban. Court heard that the woman came forward with the allegation in 2015.
Toronto police Const. Vincenzo Bonazza has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault at a trial presided over by Justice Anne London-Weinstein. The charge was laid in 2016 after an investigation by Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit.
The woman, a former actor who now works as a police officer in another jurisdiction, told the court that she had been in contact with Toronto police in the summer of 2008 when she filed a criminal harassment complaint against her ex-boyfriend.
After that ex-boyfriend was charged and released from custody, she thought she saw him driving in her neighbourhood and approached a marked Toronto police vehicle nearby to ask if police could run the licence plate of the vehicle she believed her ex-boyfriend may be driving.
The two officers in the car, Bonazza and his partner, said they could not. But that initial encounter led to further communication with Bonazza which included, the woman claimed, a surprise phone call from Bonazza a few days later, though she did not recall having given him her phone number.
During that call Bonazza told her he was bringing over some food for her and she believed “this was just a kind gesture as a kind police officer,” she said. When he dropped off the food, he asked if he could use her bathroom, something she thought was odd at the time but allowed.
He later called her and told her that he had “read her file” on her complaint with her ex-boyfriend, despite the fact that he was not involved in the investigation.
On the night of the alleged assault, not long after their initial meeting, Bonazza later came over to the woman’s home to watch a film in which she had acted. She told the court she did not believe that it was a romantic get-together and that she was not interested in Bonazza.
Soon after Bonazza arrived, wearing plain clothes, the woman alleges he told her that she was “the kind of girl where if I kiss you right now, you’d be totally cool with it,” the woman testified.
She then said he began kissing her and unbuttoned her pants — something that made her feel “sick to my stomach.”
“Woah whoa woah I don’t do this with anyone who isn’t my boyfriend,” she testified she told him.
When Bonazza didn’t stop, despite her body language and her clearly telling him his touching was unwanted, she began to fear for her safety, she said. She then submitted to intercourse and oral sex against her will, she said, out of fear.
“This is a police officer, who is going to believe me?” the woman testified she thought at the time. “He is trained to fight people if he needs to.”
Bonazza's lawyer, Gary Clewley, focused on inconsistencies in the woman's previous statements to police and her testimony at a preliminary hearing about her state of undress and other details of the night.
Clewley questioned the woman about her memory “flashes” that helped form her testimony.
“There are snapshot moments of this event that are clear as day,” the woman said.