Oneida First Nation woman sues London, Ont., police, alleging officers sexually abused her for years

Warning: This story contains disturbing allegations of sexual abuse

A 67-year-old Oneida Nation of the Thames woman has launched a $6-million lawsuit against the London Police Service (LPS) in southwestern Ontario, alleging three officers sexually assaulted her for years and officials did nothing to stop it. 

Two officers sexually assaulted her over the course of 18 months starting when she was 12 and a third officer’s abuse continued for five years, starting when she was 30, Elaine Antone says in her lawsuit. 

Antone says she first reported the abuse to police and Ontario’s police oversight body in early 1994, when she called the then police chief, Julian Fantino, and said she was worried one of the officers, the one who abused her in her 30s, was harming other women, according to documents filed with Ontario Superior Court. 

The scariest part was that the gun was there, and I was petrified.– Elaine Antone

“I have an excellent memory, and I wish I didn’t,” Antone told CBC News. “I thought police officers were supposed to help people.” 

Oneida Nation of the Thames, an Iroquois community that’s home to about 2,200 residents, is about 30 kilometres south of London.

Antone’s lawsuit names the LPS and the three officers: the estates of Brian Garraway and Keith Bull, who have died, and Edward (Ted) Lane, who is retired. A separate lawsuit asks for $4 million in damages for Antone’s two daughters, who she says were fathered by Lane. 

The allegations have not been proven in court. CBC has also reached out to all the defendants, but all have refused to comment because the matter is before the courts. 

In a statement of defence filed with the court, lawyers for the LPS have denied any wrongdoing, saying the officers were screened and trained properly, officials didn’t know about any sexual abuse, and that if it did happen, the officers were acting entirely on their own “without the knowledge or acquiescence of LPS.” 

But Antone’s lawyer, Joe Fearon, disagrees, saying police had at least four separate occasions to investigate the officers since the late 1960s and did nothing to stop ongoing abuse or investigate allegations. 

“It goes against every ounce of Elaine’s dignity for her to have to go through that, survive that, live a life surviving that and the consequences of that, and to report it, and for the chief of police to do nothing,” said Fearon, who is based in Toronto. 

Antone shared her story in 2018 with the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), naming the officers she says sexually assaulted her. 

“I’m Indigenous and because of my criminal record, they figured that they had the OK, that nobody was going to listen to me,” Antone said in the recent interview with CBC. “I believe that there might be other victims, maybe not victims of Bull or Garraway or Lane, but other victims of the London Police Department, and I feel that they should have a platform to tell their stories also.” 

Abuse began at age 12, woman says

Antone lived in Oneida with her grandmother until she was five, a childhood she describes as happy and carefree. 

“I loved sports. I wanted to be a high school math teacher because I loved numbers,” Antone said. 

But when she moved with her mom and siblings to London, she said, life got tougher — Antone’s mom was addicted to alcohol and police were often called to the family home for domestic disturbances. 

Antone at age 12, when she says the alleged abuse started. (Supplied by Elaine Antone)

When she was 12, Garraway came to the family’s home, asked if Antone was alone, and took her into a bedroom, Antone alleges. 

“He locked the door and he didn’t do too much talking,” Antone recalled. “He took his gun off and put it beside me on the mattress, and he forced me to have sex with him. He was on duty. The scariest part was that the gun was there, and I was petrified.”

Abuse by Garraway and similar sexual assaults by a second officer, Bull, continued over 18 months, Antone alleges. 

At one point, an officer found Antone in Garraway’s vehicle, Antone said. 

“She was brought back to the station, but no investigation was done,” Fearon told CBC News. “When you find somebody with a 12-year-old Indigenous girl in the car, and they have no explanation as to why they’re there and that person is a police officer, there should be an investigation.” 

Eventually, Antone was sent to the Ontario Training School for Girls (later called the Grandview Training School for Girls) in Galt, Ont. — a provincially run reform school for girls aged 12 to 18. Survivors, including Antone, allege abuse and neglect at the school. It closed in 1976 and in 2000, the Ontario government formally apologized to the hundreds of girls sent there. Eight former employees were eventually charged with various offences and two guards were convicted. 

Antone said that by the mid-1980s, she was living in London, using drugs to cope with years of childhood abuse, and had frequent run-ins with police officers, including Lane.

Allegations in the lawsuit

“Antone alleges that commencing in or about 1985, when Antone was approximately 30 years of age, and on many occasions over the following approximately five years, the defendant Lane repeatedly sexual abused, battered, assaulted and molested the plaintiff, Antone,” the lawsuit states. 

“The plaintiff Antone alleges that the defendant Lane impregnated the plaintiff, Antone, twice, leading to the birth of two children.” 

Joe Fearon, from the law firm Preszler Injury Lawyers, is working on Antone’s case. (Kate Dubinski/CBC)

According to Antone, Lane at first denied he was the father of her two daughters, but after paternity tests proved he was, he was ordered by a family court judge to pay child support. 

“At all material times, it would have been obvious to the defendants that the plaintiff, Antone, was a vulnerable person,” the lawsuit says. 

The three officers used their positions of authority and trust to make sure that Antone didn’t tell anyone about the abuse, and “interfered with her normal upbringing solely for the purpose of their own gratification,” it claims.   

A letter from the police watchdog to the Ontario attorney general detailing Antone’s complaint about Ted Lane, a now-retired LPS constable. (From documents filed with Ontario Superior Court)

The defendants were in positions of power because of her age and family circumstance, and because they were police officers, the lawsuit alleges, and she trusted them and was dependent on them for safety and security. 

The LPS didn’t properly supervise the three officers, investigate their backgrounds and characters, or document their shortcomings as police officers, the court documents also claim. 

The lawsuit also alleges the London police chief at the time knew that Lane repeatedly sexually assaulted Antone after she reported him, but didn’t investigate or reprimand him and allowed him to remain on active duty.

A letter from the director of the SIU to Julian Fantino, then London’s police chief. (From documents filed with Ontario Superior Court)

Lane retired in 1996. CBC News has tried repeatedly to get in touch with him, but has been unsuccessful. He is not represented by a lawyer in this lawsuit and has not filed a statement of defence. 

Antone said that in 1994, she had reached out to Fantino and Howard Morton, head of the then new Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which investigates incidents when police interactions lead to serious injuries or involve allegations of sexual assault. She had called both men at home to report she had run into Lane at a bingo and she was worried he was harming other women. Antone said she couldn’t remember how she got their home numbers.

According to a letter filed as part of the court documents, Morton wrote to Fantino: “Ms. Elaine Antone contacted the director Mr. Morton at his residence on Nov. 20, 1994, and complained of a sexual assault by Const. Ted Lane. She indicated she met Const. Lane in April 1985 and although they had intercourse, it was without her consent. She stated that she has two children fathered by Const. Lane, who does pay child support. Ms. Antone fears that Constable Lane might be assaulting another woman, but has no proof.”

Morton’s eventual report to Ontario’s attorney general that’s dated Jan. 30, 1995, states Antone “does not wish SIU to investigate the matter nor does she wish to complain to the police complaints commissioner.” Because Antone didn’t want the matter investigated, Morton writes, “I have determined that no further action is warranted by my office and I am, therefore, closing our file.” 

In another letter to Fantino that’s contained in the lawsuit documents, Morton suggests “it would be perfectly in order” for the chief to discuss the matter with Lane. There is nothing to indicate whether that was done, and the London police have not turned over any records to indicate that an internal investigation was done or that Antone’s allegations were investigated further.   

Lane remained on duty for another year. 

CBC News reached out to Fantino, the police chief in 1994 and 1995 — the years the correspondence was dated — and the deputy chief at the time, Elgin Austen, who was in charge of public complaints.

Fantino said he didn’t recall such a situation, and even if he did, he could not comment because of the ongoing legal case. Austen said he remembered Antone as a troubled teen that officers dealt with. He also said he had no knowledge of Lane fathering her two children and didn’t recall her allegations against the officer. 

Morton remembered the phone call from Antone because it was so unusual to get a call at home, but he couldn’t recall what happened with the case. Lawyers for the estates of Garraway and Bull said they couldn’t comment because of the ongoing lawsuit.

‘Trying to keep my spirits up’ 

Antone’s voice is steady as she tells her story. She’s told it many times before — at the MMIWG inquiry and to classes of criminology students because one of Antone’s best friends is a professor. 

She is in touch with her daughters and loves playing with her grandchildren. She writes poetry and watches television in her apartment. 

“Health wise, I’m not doing well. Emotionally, I’m trying to keep my spirits up,” Antone told CBC News. Still, she said, she has bouts of severe depression for about a week every month, the symptoms keeping her from performing her daily routine. 

At a minimum, the LPS should pay for Antone’s counselling while this case winds its way through the court system, Fearon said. 

This week, he will be back in court to try to amend the claim to include allegations that the LPS breached Antone’s charter rights. Lawyers for the police oppose that amendment. 

A trial date will be set shortly. 

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. ​​If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911. 

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