A Toronto police officer found guilty of grabbing and squeezing the testicles of a motorist after a traffic stop two years ago will be sentenced Feb 2.
Const. Salameh Marji was found guilty of one count of assault and a count of sexual assault.
He was to be sentenced Monday but Justice Lucia P. Favret agreed to the adjournment to allow time for further submissions.
The charges stemmed from a traffic stop and search of a 21-year-old driver on Sept. 2, 2009.
The driver testified that Marji, who earlier that year was named police officer of the month, punched him in the face and slammed his head on the police cruiser.
In a search, which was considered unlawful by the judge, Marji also grabbed the driver twice by the testicles and squeezed so hard as to elicit screams of pain.
The judge noted that during the second assault, Marji lifted the driver by the testicles. The pain was so severe his feet curled up off the ground, Favret said in her judgment.
“The constable violated (the driver’s) sexual integrity, given the body part he touched and the nature of the touch,” she said.
At trial, Marji admitted to an “aggressive” search but denied the assault and sexual assault allegations.
The judge also rejected the defence suggestion that the driver had motivation to invent the crisis and portray himself as a victim because he had lied to his parents by driving the family car from Kitchener against their rules.
A court ban prohibits publication of information that would identify the sexual assault victim.
In her reasons for judgment, and after examining photographs entered as evidence, Favret noted that a doctor reported tenderness in the driver’s groin area after an examination.
The judge also noted several inconsistencies in testimony given on both sides.
The province’s Special Investigations Unit, which probes all cases of serious injury, death and sexual assault involving police, received a complaint of a “sexual nature” about a week after the traffic stop and launched an investigation.
At the time, Marji was assigned to TAVIS (Toronto’s Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy), an intensive, violence reduction and community mobilization program to reduce crime and increase safety in Toronto’s neighbourhoods.
Court had heard that the driver was speeding on Lawrence Ave. W., just west of Jane St., an area known to have violent gang activity.
Evidence presented in court suggested the driver was suspected of being involved in drug activity because he was carrying two cellphones. It was later learned he was a cellphone sales representative.
At the time, the charges against Marji escalated an ongoing battle between the Toronto Police Association and its oversight body, the SIU.
Police association president Mike McCormack said at the time the charges were politically motivated.
“There is no sexual purpose in a search conducted by an officer for weapons or contraband,” McCormack said at the time. “It is our concern that when the SIU lays a charge like this, once again it jeopardizes the confidence our officers have to do their jobs. We believe the SIU is laying frivolous charges again.”
McCormack said he believed that SIU director Ian Scott was trying to appease Ontario ombudsman André Marin, who had called the SIU a “toothless tiger” biased toward police.