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VPD officer who engaged in ‘sexual activity’ with high school student in Cuba demoted

Click to play video: 'Disciplinary action still possible for B.C. cops acquitted in Cuba'
Disciplinary action still possible for B.C. cops acquitted in Cuba
Constables Mark Simms and Jordan Long may still face disciplinary action after being acquitted of sexual assault charges in Cuba. Grace Ke has more on where the investigation goes from here – Jan 7, 2019

A Vancouver police officer who was detained in Cuba for eight months on allegations he had sex with a 17-year-old girl has been demoted and ordered to take training on police ethical behaviour.

Const. Mark Simms, who was in the country while off-duty, was charged with sexual assault in 2018 but eventually acquitted of any criminal offence. Const. Jordan Long of the Port Moody Police Department was detained with him in Cuba as a material witness.

When the officers returned to Canada, however, they faced a separate Police Act code of conduct investigation. That probe, which was summarized in a recent Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) report, found Simms had committed discreditable conduct, while Long had not.

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The disciplinary proceeding, which was led by Metro Vancouver Transit Police Chief Dave Jones, concluded the allegation that Simms “did not take adequate steps or make adequate enquiries prior to engaging in sexual activity with a female high school student on a graduation trip to another country” was substantiated.

Click to play video: 'B.C. police officers cleared of all charges in Cuba'
B.C. police officers cleared of all charges in Cuba

The proceeding concluded that Simms’ discipline must reflect “the seriousness of the member’s actions” and also work to “educate and correct the member’s behaviour.”

Simms did not seek to review the decision.

As a result, Simms was demoted from first class constable to second class constable for a minimum of one year and ordered to take ethics training.

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Global News sought comment from Simms through the Vancouver Police Union, which said both the officer and the union were unable to respond due to confidentiality rules.

Global News has requested comment from the Vancouver Police Department.

Legal ordeal

Simms was arrested while vacationing in Varadero in March 2018, accused of sexual activity with a 17-year-old girl from Ontario who was also holidaying in the resort town.

The girl’s family and friends alleged she had phoned home in tears to report she had been assaulted.

Simms and Long were held in the country for months and supporters, who maintained their innocence, complained of a lack of evidence and alleged problems with the Cuban legal system, including requirements the men sign documents in Spanish that they did not understand.

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In November 2018, he was acquitted by a jury of five women, and returned to Canada in Jan. 2019 after the country’s Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal.

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