British Columbia

Crown admits some allegations of sexual assault by disgraced former Vancouver detective

When former Vancouver detective James Fisher pleaded guilty to abusing two victims, sexual assault charges related to another two young women were stayed and the public heard no evidence about what he had done to them.

Newly released court documents detail some of the evidence behind stayed charges for James Fisher

When former Vancouver detective James Fisher pleaded guilty to abusing two victims, sexual assault charges related to another two young women were stayed and the public heard no evidence about what he had done to them.

But that's changed now that a pile of documents filed in the B.C. Court of Appeal last summer has been released to the media.

Comprising more than 160 pages connected to an appeal filed by a man Fisher put behind bars, these statements of fact, known as factums, include numerous allegations of sexual assault and professional misconduct that have yet to be tested in court.

Notorious pimp Reza Moazami's two factums detail claims that Fisher repeatedly abused two young women who testified in Moazami's trial, including allegations of groping, kissing, asking for sex, fondling himself in front of one of them and giving them money. 

At least some of those allegations are not disputed.

In their two factums, lawyers for B.C.'s attorney general write that the Crown "admits the facts in [the two alleged victims'] sworn statements" — statements that formed the basis for charging Fisher with sexual assault against both women when they were about 19 years old.

The admitted facts include that Fisher kissed one of the young women; however, the full content of the sworn statements has not been made public.

The charges concerning the two young women were stayed when Fisher pleaded guilty in 2018 to sexual exploitation and breach of trust for kissing two other victims — a 17-year-old girl and a 21-year-old woman.

Moazami is appealing his convictions on 30 charges related to his operation of an underage prostitution ring, as well as additional convictions for obstruction of justice. He's asking for a new trial, or for his convictions to be tossed out entirely.

In all, he alleges that Fisher committed "serious sexual misconduct" or "serious misconduct" involving nine of 11 victims and two witnesses in the Crown's case against Moazami. 

These claims are drawn from court documents, statements from those involved, as well as text messages taken from Fisher and the young women's phones, the factums say.

'Miscarriage of justice'

Moazami says he has fresh evidence that "shows a reasonable possibility that the outcome and fairness of his trial was affected, and that a miscarriage of justice occurred," one factum says.

"Mr. Fisher was never investigated in relation to the impact of his misconduct on the appellant's [Moazami's] trials, though it is clear that he engaged in obstruction of justice relating to covering up his misconduct, and in dealing inappropriately with complainants and witnesses," the factum states.

The factums filed by Crown, meanwhile, offer a grim reminder of the chilling testimony heard during Moazami's original trial, laying out the violence, threats, rape, controlling behaviour and psychological abuse experienced by his victims, who were as young as 14..

Reza Moazami is arguing that James Fisher's misconduct interfered with his right to a fair trial. (CBC)

In light of the violence uncovered during the investigation into Moazami, the Crown's factum says, "A stay of proceedings would send a message but the wrong one in this case — that the consequence of vulnerable victims disclosing sexual exploitation by a police investigator is vacating convictions for the graver sexual exploitation perpetrated by the appellant."

Though Moazami argues that Fisher's misconduct — both proven and unproven — interfered with his right to a fair trial, the Crown says "there is no evidence that it altered the testimony or materially affected the credibility of the complainants to the extent of reasonably affecting the result or causing a miscarriage of justice."

Fisher sentenced to 20 months in jail

The Crown's factums maintain that most of Fisher's alleged misconduct took place after Moazami's trial and some of the allegations are based on rumour, not fact.

While the Crown admits Fisher kissed one witness while Moazami's trial was underway, "she was clear in both of her statements that Fisher 'never' asked her to change her evidence or lie."

Moazami's team, on the other hand, argues that Fisher was "obsessed" with convicting Moazami and was unusually involved in the trial, acting as witness handler and appearing at the courthouse for 90 per cent of the proceedings.

Fisher was sentenced to 20 months in jail for breach of trust and sexual exploitation for his crimes. He faces two civil lawsuits from yet another two women who say he sexually abused and emotionally manipulated them during his investigation into Moazami. 

Arguments in Moazami's appeals are set to resume in the B.C. Court of Appeal later this month. He is also arguing he was given ineffective assistance by his lawyers at trial.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay is a B.C. journalist with a focus on the courts, health, science and social justice issues. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.

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