Deputy chief denies sabotaging woman's attempt to join force

Uday Jaswal has filed has filed his defence to a human rights complaint made earlier this year by a civilian employee, saying he did not stifle the woman's attempt to become a constable. 

Uday Jaswal says he was extorted by woman's partner

Uday Jaswal, Ottawa's deputy police chief, is denying allegations made in a human rights complaint filed by a civilian officer who accuses him of denying her a job after she spurned his advances. (Twitter)

Ottawa's deputy police chief has filed his defence to a human rights complaint made earlier this year by a civilian employee, saying he did not stifle the woman's attempt to become a constable. 

In the documents, Uday Jaswal says he was at the centre of an extortion attempt by the woman's romantic partner.

Jaswal alleges he was threatened by the man, who "boasted" about his personal connections to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and promised to file a complaint against Jaswal if he did not help the woman get the promotion.

The woman has said Jaswal sabotaged her career in retaliation for rejecting his advances.

But Jaswal states in his defence he had a "long-standing friendship" with the woman, and did not pursue her once she told him she was in a serious relationship.

Oversight was 'remote'

In the documents, filed to the provincial tribunal and provided to CBC News by Jaswal's attorney, the deputy chief said the pair became friends in 2006 while he was in a relationship with the woman's roommate. 

Jaswal considered the woman "a friend and a confidant," and they corresponded over social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

According to the documents, in the fall of 2015, Jaswal became the superintendent of support services with the police force and was thus "responsible for the unit the [woman] was working in."

However, the "oversight was remote," with other people above the woman in the chain of command.

The two began to see each other on a more regular basis, and Jaswal asked the woman out for coffee. They met up in December 2015, but Jaswal said he didn't know the woman was in a serious relationship.

In the following months, they exchanged texts in which the woman expressed an "interest in becoming a supervisor in the court liaison section," the documents said.

Jaswal believed mentoring the woman could enhance her chances at being promoted to a supervisor role, and offered to mentor her — but she declined.

The documents say Jaswal didn't know which specific position she was applying for, and that he never intended to "interfere with a promotional process" or "take any action which could influence or bias such a process."

According to Jaswal's defence, the woman told him in May 2016 she was in a serious relationship and "not interested in meeting [him] socially." 

Jaswal was "taken aback," but respected her decision.

Jaswal told a CBC Ottawa reporter in September that he welcomed a 'full and fair investigation' into the allegations. (CBC)

Denies touching woman at party

According to the woman's initial complaint, she felt Jaswal's initial request for coffee was work-related. She said Jaswal continued to ask her for dates, despite her refusals, and when he wouldn't back down, she urged her partner — now her husband — to intervene.

Jaswal's defence states the woman's romantic partner did approach him in May 2016, and the two men "resolved the issue" after Jaswal said he didn't know about their relationship.

Jaswal left the Ottawa force that summer to take a similar position with the Durham Regional Police Service, returning in 2018 to serve as the deputy chief.

Early in 2019, the pair were attending a retirement party when Jaswal made physical contact with the woman. In her complaint, the woman alleged Jaswal "intentionally and overtly" rubbed his hand across her stomach and hip.

In his defence, Jaswal denied it happened on purpose, saying he "stumbled" while making his way through the crowd. Jaswal said he "felt awkward about it" and apologized.

"The incident was clumsy and unfortunate, but it was not intentional," his defence said.

Partner tried to 'influence' process

According to Jaswal's defence, the woman's partner phoned him in June to inform him she hadn't been selected for promotion. He then "indicated that he was looking for the respondent to help," since he was deputy chief.

Jaswal said he had nothing to do with the process and didn't know the woman had applied.

He said he could make a call and find out what happened, and according to his defence, an inspector told him the woman was "not a suitable candidate to be a police constable."

Jaswal was also told "there were problems uncovered during her background check that could require the initiation of a chief's complaint," the documents said.

When he told the woman's partner what he'd learned, the man urged him to intervene — something Jaswal said he couldn't do.

"[The man made] repeated efforts to try and influence the respondent into interfering in the selection process," his defence said. 

The documents said the man "boasted" about knowing someone with the tribunal who'd help him write a complaint against Jaswal if he didn't use his power to intervene. The man also threatened to disclose text messages to both the police services board and the media, his defence says.

Jaswal's defence does not make clear what the content of those messages could have included.

The woman is seeking $250,000, as well as an acknowledgement of wrongdoing and a commitment from the force to provide "further in-depth training on sexual harassment."

In September, the police board said it had asked the Ontario Civilian Police Commission to investigate the complaint and report its findings to the board, as well as whether suspending Jaswal was warranted.

At that time, Jaswal and his lawyer, Ari Goldkind, told CBC News he had not been suspended or placed on administrative duties.