By MICHELE MANDEL
TORONTO - How the tables have turned on the once powerful Toronto cop who used his gun and his position of power to demand sex.
Thanks to her compelling testimony, the vulnerable masseuse forced to perform oral sex on Const. Mandip Sandhu saw him convicted and sentenced last year in criminal court. And now she is dragging him into civil court where she is suing him and the Toronto Police Service Board for more than $1 million.
Who’s wielding all the power now?
Sandhu, 37, was convicted last year of sexually assault after a judge rejected his ridiculous defence that he was the victim and the petite Chinese immigrant forced herself on him during his “inspection” of the North York spa where she worked in June 2010.
His undoing was his DNA — she had spit into a washcloth that was handed over for testing.
Sandhu was sentenced in June to 15 months in jail — an unusually harsh term for a police officer — and though free on bail pending his appeal, he can no longer count on that cushy police salary he had for three years while he was under suspension and awaiting trial.
As a convicted cop sentenced to a term of imprisonment, the Police Services Act allows him to be suspended without pay. And now his troubles have further increased with this civil lawsuit.
In her claim, his 46-year-old victim said she was happily married and the mother of a five-year-old daughter when Sandhu entered her workplace that morning, showed his badge, and demanded oral sex. “During the assault, (she) could feel Sandhu’s gun pressing against her head,” her lawsuit contends.
The trauma, shame and terror that followed the attack, she said, led to the break-up of her marriage and her decision to flee the province and leave her child behind.
“She has lived and continues to live in a constant state of fear that Sandhu will exact revenge on her because she did not stay silent and she cooperated with the criminal process against him,” the lawsuit claims.
Unlike two recent sex assault victims of Dr. George Doodnaught who have criticized the automatic, court-ordered publication ban on their names, she clings to it.
“(She) was and is deeply ashamed of what Sandhu did to her, and feels guilty and as though she was and is to blame and was and is unable to tell even close family members of friends what Sandhu did to her for fear of being disbelieved or shunned.”
In her lawsuit, she also blames the police services board for allowing Sandhu to work alone when he came into her workplace and for not having a rigorous inspection policy in place so officers “would not be tempted to abuse and exploit their privileged access to such establishments.”
The allegations in her claim have not been proven in court and no statement of defence has yet been filed. A spokesman for the Toronto Police board would not comment about an ongoing matter. Lawyer Elizabeth Grace said she has been unable to find and serve Sandhu.
“It’s a tragic case of a police officer exploiting the authority of his badge for his own sexual gratification — and he was given that badge by the Toronto Police Services Board,” argues Grace. “We’re concerned that this isn’t an isolated case and there may be more victims out there and if so, I encourage them to come forward.”
In her lawsuit, the victim alleges her co-worker “recognized Sandhu as the man who had regularly attended at another North York spa where she had worked and where he sexually assaulted other estheticians. However, the other victims had been too afraid and ashamed to report Sandhu’s sexual assaults on them.”
When Sandhu left the spa, she said he warned her not to say anything. And the 11-year veteran likely assumed he was safe and that his victim’s cultural shame would preserve her silence.
“It speaks to the vulnerable population that he may have been picking on, the kind of person unlikely to speak out, and that’s really concerning,” her lawyer alleged.
The irony is that Sandhu picked on the wrong woman. And no badge or gun can protect him now.