British Columbia

Bombshell new sexual misconduct allegations against ex-VPD detective aired in court hearing

Defence lawyers are arguing that disgraced detective James Fisher had sexual contact with six of 11 victims and a key witness in the trial of Reza Moazami.

Notorious pimp Reza Moazami appealing his convictions based on actions of former detective James Fisher

Former detective James Fisher was sentenced to 20 months in jail last year. (Government of British Columbia)

B.C.'s highest court heard allegations Monday that the sexual and professional misconduct of a disgraced former Vancouver detective was much more extensive than previously known.

Lawyers for convicted pimp and human trafficker Reza Moazami are appealing his convictions on dozens of criminal counts for running an underage prostitution ring.

The defence is alleging the lead detective in the investigation, James Fisher, had sexual contact with six of 11 victims and a key witness before, during and after Moazami's trial.

Defence lawyer Tom Arbogast told a bail hearing at the B.C. Court of Appeal that Fisher interfered with the young women and girls in other ways as well, including giving them money on multiple occasions and encouraging them to lie in court.

"It should shock the conscience of the community," Arbogast told CBC outside the court.

The new allegations were heard in open court for the first time Monday, when an appeal court justice reserved his decision on whether to grant bail to Moazami while he waits for his appeal to be heard.

Fisher, once a decorated senior officer in the Vancouver Police Department, pleaded guilty to breach of trust and sexual exploitation last year for kissing two young victims of crime — including one who had been abused by Moazami.

Fisher received a 20-month jail sentence for his crimes.

He was originally charged with nine counts related to four alleged victims, but after his guilty plea, Crown did not proceed with prosecuting the remaining offences. That means the evidence related to two alleged victims has never been heard in court.

Reza Moazami is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for running a teenage prostitution ring. (CBC)

Moazami, on the other hand, is serving a 23-year sentence for crimes that include human trafficking, sexual exploitation, sexual assault, and living off the avails of prostitution.

His 11 victims were as young as 14, and his trial heard that he used drugs and threats to manipulate them.

Serious misconduct allegations

Now, his lawyers are arguing that Fisher's actions interfered with Moazami's right to a fair trial. Arbogast mentioned a variety of sources for the new allegations, including police interviews, text messages between Fisher and the young women, a report to Crown counsel, and hearsay.

Arbogast alleged that Fisher's conduct with six of Moazami's victims and a key witness went far beyond kissing and included penetrative sex.

"Had the appellant [Moazami] known about Mr. Fisher's behaviour, it would have changed the appellant's approach," Arbogast said.

"There are few things a defence attorney relishes more than being able to cross-examine a dirty cop."

He also alleged that Fisher provided the young women with drugs, counselled them on how to lie and cheat in court, gave them hundreds of dollars and obstructed police investigations into their activities.

Arbogast said Fisher may even have profited from his alleged abuse, alleging he offered advice to one victim who wanted to set up shop as a madam and even began "referring girls to her."

Crown prosecutors signalled during Monday's hearing that they plan to argue any alleged misconduct by Fisher would not have affected the outcome of Moazami's trial.

They argued against releasing Moazami on bail, saying he is a flight risk and a risk to the public.

Fisher was not a party to Monday's hearing and has not had a chance to respond to the allegations. No new charges have been filed against Fisher.

About the Author

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay is an experienced 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.