British Columbia

Disgraced VPD detective was 'crossing so many boundaries' with victim, court hears

Former Vancouver detective James Fisher helped a young woman set up a madam business, gave her advice about avoiding arrest and even demanded payment from a violent john on her behalf, a B.C. court heard last month.

Lawyer alleges James Fisher ran licence plates for young madam using police computer system

Former detective James Fisher was sentenced to 20 months in jail for sexual exploitation and breach of trust. (Government of British Columbia)

Former Vancouver detective James Fisher helped a young woman set up a madam business, gave her advice about avoiding arrest and even demanded payment from a violent john on her behalf, a B.C. court heard last month.

The new details come as part of a case against accused pimp Omar Alameddin, who is facing charges related to the sex trade.

In a voir dire in B.C. Supreme Court on Jan. 20, defence lawyer Vicki Williams read excerpts from a 2016 police interview with the woman, who'd previously been abused and exploited by the pimp Reza Moazami. 

Williams said the woman told police that when she was opening up shop as a madam — a female agent for sex workers —  she'd call Fisher to ask "is this legal?" and he'd respond with advice. 

"It's great, but he's crossing so many boundaries. Like, he'd tell me who's ratting out who," the woman allegedly told investigators with the Vancouver Police Department.

The young woman — who is not named because she's a victim of sex crime — allegedly told police that she'd give Fisher the licence plates of johns to run through the VPD's computer system.

In one case, after she was assaulted by a customer, Fisher allegedly ran the licence plate and discovered it belonged to someone who was "personally related" to a VPD officer.

"Fisher then spoke with that individual and obtained an apology and funds — money," Williams told the court.

Stream of allegations

Williams represents Alameddin, who was charged after an investigation by the VPD's Counter Exploitation Unit. She was in court seeking disclosure about the investigations into Fisher and three of his fellow officers in the CEU.

Williams hopes to find information about how those officers' conduct might have affected the investigation into her client.

Fisher was a detective with the CEU from 2011 to 2016, when he came under investigation for his sexual misconduct with young women who'd already been victimized by sex traffickers.

He pleaded guilty in 2018 to breach of trust and sexual exploitation for kissing two of those victims. That includes the young woman he allegedly advised on her madam business. He was sentenced to 20 months in jail.

The last year has seen a steady stream of new allegations against Fisher, including suggestions that his misconduct was much more serious and extensive than previously known.

There have been allegations that Fisher sexually abused several other young women during the course of his investigations into Vancouver pimps, beginning mere months after he joined the CEU.

Victim's credibility called into question

Williams told the court the same woman, whose police statement was read during the voir dire, said she'd also sought Fisher's help when she was looking for work. 

"If I needed like a pimp or something, I'd just ask him, are there any pimps around? He'd give me, like, names and then I'd go hit them up," Williams said, quoting from the young woman's statement.

Fisher's trial heard how the same young woman confessed to Fisher that she'd stabbed an ex-boyfriend, and he helped her avoid an RCMP investigation.

Fisher's lawyer, William Smart, said he had no comment about the new allegations, except to point out the same young woman's credibility came under fire during Reza Moazami's trial, when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce wrote "it is difficult to imagine a less credible witness."

'Adam's my guy'

During the Jan. 20 hearing, Williams also read from transcripts of conversations between Fisher and the second woman he admitted to kissing.

In one conversation, she told Fisher she was nervous about meeting with constables Adam King and Silvana Burtini to discuss allegations of sexual contact with Fisher, according to Williams.

Williams said Fisher told the young woman "Don't worry, Adam's my guy, he's with me. No matter what he asks you, say 'I don't remember saying this' or 'I must have been high.'"

King and Burtini were both members of the CEU at the time, and they are currently the subject of a criminal investigation led by the Alberta RCMP's major crimes unit. Const. Zach Guy, another former CEU member, is also under investigation. 

Williams told the court that the three officers are accused of deceiving investigators with false statements during the VPD's investigation into Fisher. She said King and Burtini are also suspected of corruption.

King, Burtini and Guy all remain on duty with the VPD, but they have been moved out of the CEU. They have not been charged.

Their lawyer has declined to comment on the allegations against them.

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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