Calgary

Coun. Sean Chu disciplined for physical contact with 16-year-old girl when he was police officer

A Calgary city councillor seeking re-election was found guilty of discreditable conduct when he was a police officer for having inappropriate sexual contact with a minor, CBC News has learned.

Chu says he did not know the girl was underage when he met her in 1997

Coun. Sean Chu, who is running for re-election in Ward 4, was disciplined for an incident involving a 16-year-old girl when he was a 34-year-old police officer. (CBC)

A Calgary city councillor seeking re-election was found guilty of discreditable conduct when he was a police officer for having inappropriate physical contact with a minor, CBC News has learned.

Coun. Sean Chu was a Calgary Police Service (CPS) officer from 1992 to 2013. The allegations stem from an incident in 1997 when Chu was 34 years old and the girl was 16.

In a statement provided to CBC News, Chu says he was found guilty of misconduct for touching the girl's leg under a table in a public place. The teen, now a woman, said she was sexually assaulted at Chu's home.

Details in this story come from two Law Enforcement Review Board (LERB) decisions on appeals filed in connection with the internal police investigation. 

A hearing in relation to an application brought by the victim took place this week in Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench in relation to this case but Justice Johanna Price issued a sealing order on the evidence and transcripts.

Because of a publication ban, CBC News was unable to publish details from the documents until Friday afternoon.

The woman will be identified as HH. Those are not her real initials. CBC News does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault. 

CBC News is also omitting other details that could identify her.

Chu says he didn't know girl's age

Ultimately, an Edmonton Police Service investigation did not result in criminal charges being laid. However, Chu was investigated by CPS's professional standards section for two allegations he breached service regulations: one for bringing HH into his home in the "early morning hours'' and the other whether he "engaged in misconduct in his actions with [HH]."

That led to Chu being charged with two counts of discreditable conduct under the Police Act.

Following a hearing, Chu was convicted on one count of misconduct. Although the decision does not elaborate on the details of the findings, Chu maintains "the one finding of discreditable conduct involved touching her leg."

Chu's penalty was a letter of reprimand on his CPS file for a five-year term, which expired in 2008, according to his written statement.

According to a statement from Sean Chu's lawyer, the councillor denies knowing that the teen was underage at the time.

According to a source with direct knowledge of the incident, a firearm was involved in the 1997 incident which the victim described as a sexual assault.

Chu was asked specifically about the allegation regarding the use of a firearm; that request for information was not acknowledged.

CPS failed to internally investigate Chu 'as required by law'

HH pursued the matter through appeals for nine years. 

First, she filed a complaint against the officers who investigated her allegations.

HH alleged the officers were guilty of misconduct and a "general coverup."

A 1999 LERB decision shows her complaint against the officers was dismissed but the board ruled that CPS was "obligated to conduct" an investigation under the Police Act and had failed to do so.

LERB found that the allegations required two investigations, one criminal and one in the context of contraventions of Police Service Regulation under the Alberta Police Act. 

"The board was equally persuaded that this matter was not resolved as required by law," reads the decision.

LERB findings, Chu's statement conflict

The board also noted that CPS's professional standards unit had an "increased obligation" when dealing with a youth. 

When the professional standards investigation resulted in one conviction and one acquittal, HH appealed the finding of not guilty. 

A second LERB document shows the appeal was ultimately dismissed when HH was not able to commit to a scheduled appeal hearing. This, according to the document, was because, nearly a decade after the original incidents, HH had graduated high school as well as university and was working out of country. 

In his statement, Chu said he "met a woman at a licensed establishment where all persons are required to be 18 years of age or older."

Chu questions timing

LERB findings differ from what Chu said happened.

The 1999 Law Enforcement Review Board appeal decision indicates the events took place at Chu's home.

Initially, Chu said the internal hearing dismissed all charges, but he eventually admitted to one conviction, saying it was one instance of touching, which he says was confirmed by a witness. 

But according to the LERB decision to dismiss the appeal, Chu argued that aside from the fact that "the events happened nearly 10 years earlier while he was off duty," the board should dismiss the application because "there were no witnesses" to the 1997 incident.

In his written statement, Chu expressed concern with the reasoning behind the allegations coming to light 24 years after the incident.

"The timing … literally decades after both matters were resolved, is motivated by politics and not by justice," said Chu.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary crime reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach her at meghan.grant@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @CBCMeg.

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