Three Toronto police officers from the city's 51 Division have been arrested and charged with sexual assault and a separate charge of gang sexual assault.
According to a Toronto Police Services press release, the officers involved are Constables Joshua Cabero, Leslie Nyznik and Sameer Kara who have between four and six years experience on the force. They appeared in a Toronto courtroom this morning and were each released on $15,000 bail.
The initial report by CityNews claimed that the sexual assault took place during an "after-work party" during which the accused and the alleged victim were off-duty.
Cabero, Nyznik and Kara had already been suspended with pay after an internal complaint was filed by a female Parking Enforcement officer regarding the incident.
VICE spoke with Mark Pugash, the Toronto police's director of communications, who said that these officers could lose their jobs but only after an internal investigation following the criminal proceedings.
"I can't go beyond what's in the news release other than saying that at the end of the criminal process there will be a separate Police Services Act investigation and the most severe punishment is dismissal," Pugash said.
Toronto lawyer Barry Swadron told VICE that an eventual internal investigation is not ideal, even in extreme cases like this one. "A Police Services Act investigation is not the best in the sense that these officers would be prosecuted by the police. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But it's the police prosecuting the police."
Swadron, who began his career as a criminal lawyer in 1963 and whose practice now focuses primarily on civil suits against police forces added, "It would be better if they got a retired judge to sit, that would add some dignity and respect to these investigations. The more independent the better."
This is not Constable Nyznik's first time in hot water. In 2013, he was scolded by a judge for giving "incredulous" and contradictory testimony after his partner repeatedly elbowed handcuffed suspect Raymond Costain, all of which was captured on dashcam.
That specific incident lead Police Chief Bill Blair to chastise his entire force in an internal video obtained by the Toronto Star, saying "If you want to be an idiot, you don't get to be an idiot wearing our uniform. You don't get to be an idiot diminishing our organization and you can't hide behind the badge."
The trio are not the only Toronto police officers facing criminal charges currently.
Const. James Forcillo is facing a second-degree murder charge for the on-duty streetcar shooting of teenager Sammy Yatim. He returned to work in April 2014 after the summer 2013 shooting.
Additionally, a Toronto police officer pleaded guilty to assault in December for repeatedly punching a drunk man in the face. Const. Gary Gould escaped with only probation and did not have to spend any time in jail.
Constables Cabero, Nyznik and Kara are presumed innocent and remain suspended. They have also been ordered to avoid any contact with each other or with the alleged victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban. They are scheduled for another court appearance on March 20.