Sexualized comment ‘invented’ by officer, Waterloo Regional Police lawyer suggests

WATERLOO REGION — The senior counsel for the Waterloo Regional Police began cross-examining Angie Rivers on Wednesday dating back to March 2007 when she was a freshman at the Ontario Police College.

Rivers was testifying Wednesday at an arbitration hearing about the force’s response to her complaints of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Donald Jarvis said Rivers “made up” the allegation that Staff Sgt. Ray Massicotte said to her quietly when she was in college: “You are so beautiful, you have no idea.”

Rivers said she remembered the incident because it was the first sexualized comment made to her after she joined the Waterloo Regional Police in December 2006 and started the 12-week course at the College of Ontario Police in January 2007.

It happened, she said in earlier testimony, when the recruits were drinking with Massicotte at the campus bar. Massicotte was seconded to the police college to mentor and teach the Waterloo Regional Police recruit class.

It was a party night, towards the end of class. Among the revelers that night was a rookie engaged to Massicotte’s daughter, who also worked at the regional police. There was another woman there who ran fitness tests for rookie intramural events, who was Massicotte’s niece.

“So he seems to be surrounded by family members,” Jarvis said.

“I wouldn’t disagree with that,” Rivers said.

“Although he was surrounded by family members, he made that comment?” Jarvis said.

“Yeah, he did,” Rivers said.

There was no mention of the Massicotte incident when a class action lawsuit was launched in 2017, it wasn’t in his affidavit that was part of that lawsuit, it wasn’t in his 2016 complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, and he was not in his grievance which was filed in early 2020, Jarvis said.

Rivers agreed, but said she always felt she would be allowed to give more details as her case progressed.

The reason Massicotte’s comment wasn’t included in those proceedings is that it didn’t happen, Jarvis suggested.

“That’s incorrect,” Rivers said.

“I suggest you make it up,” Jarvis said.

“I didn’t make it up,” Rivers said.

The retired staff sergeant will categorically deny making that comment when he testifies at the arbitration hearing, Jarvis said.

“It doesn’t change my testimony,” Rivers said.

Massicotte was elected president of the Waterloo Region Police Association in the fall of 2007 for a three-year term. He retired in 2010 and the class action named the association as a defendant. Given those facts, it doesn’t make sense that the statement in the lawsuit doesn’t mention Massicotte’s comment, Jarvis said.

“I can’t agree with that,” Rivers said.

“You don’t want to be okay with this,” Jarvis said.

“No, that’s beyond my skill set,” Rivers said. “My story has not changed.”

The exchange was typical of the verbal tussle between Jarvis and Rivers over the absence of the Massicotte incident from any of his official complaints.

At least twice more during the proceedings on Wednesday, Jarvis told Rivers the hearing would hear testimony from senior officers that contradicts his testimony. Jarvis asked her if she wanted to change her testimony because of this. The rivers declined.

Rivers left the Regional Police in July 2015 and has been fighting ever since. The class action lawsuit was not certified by the courts, which ultimately said it would have to be heard in labor arbitration first because Rivers is represented by the police association.

His cross-examination continues Thursday.

Jon J. Epps