Toronto officer pleads guilty to misconduct for using database for personal gain

A Toronto Police Service cruiser. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

TORONTO – A Toronto police officer pleaded guilty to misconduct at a tribunal hearing Tuesday for using his position to obtain a woman’s information for personal gain.

Const. Vincenzo Bonazza admitted to using his authority and police databases to search information about a woman who approached him in 2008 asking for help.

He first admitted to the misconduct during a criminal trial in 2018 where the woman accused him of raping her – he was later acquitted – shortly after the two met 10 years earlier.

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“There is no doubt that police Const. Vincenzo Bonazza’s actions have implication with public trust,” said police prosecutor Insp. Shane Branton. “He violated that trust and in particular the trust of the public at large.”

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The misconduct first came to light at Bonazza’s sexual assault trial when he took the stand in his own defence. The woman reported the 2008 incident in 2015 after becoming a police officer in a different district while investigating sexual assault complaints.

The woman, who cannot be named, approached Bonazza and his partner in September 2008 about problems with her ex-boyfriend who had just come out of jail after being arrested for harassing her, she said at trial.

Bonazza, who was married at the time, testified he asked for and received the woman’s phone number and later showed up at her house to watch a movie she acted in.

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The woman testified she didn’t remember giving the officer her number. The officer testified he used police databases to “run her file” and “conduct a history” of her. He admitted the misconduct again in an interview with the professional standards unit with the Toronto police in May 2018, the tribunal heard.

The woman said Bonazza had sex and oral sex with her at her apartment without her consent. He said the two had consensual sex.

The judge found Bonazza not guilty of sexual assault due to the woman’s inconsistent testimony, which the judge said raised reasonable doubt in the case.

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At the tribunal hearing, the prosecution said Bonazza’s misuse of police databases wasn’t up to the force’s standards.

“Police Const. Bonazza’s actions in this matter do not amount to good moral character,” Branton said. “It was determined that Bonazza didn’t break any law, but his actions fall far below what the public expects.”

Bonazza’s lawyer, Gary Clewley, cited his client’s otherwise unblemished record in nearly two decades of policing.

“He made a mistake over 10 years ago in querying the complainant and he regrets that and apologizes for it,” Clewley said. “He will carry on as he has to be an excellent officer. This will remain in the past where it belongs.”

Bonazza declined to speak at the hearing.

The prosecution and defence made a joint submission of four days docked pay for Bonazza’s misconduct.

The hearing officer reserved his decision.

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