Sarge used constable's bikini pics as police computer wallpaper: Witness

Sam Pazzano, Courts Bureau, Toronto Sun

Publishing date:  February 23, 2018

TORONTO — Sgt. Howard Payton admitted he showed “poor judgment” when displaying bikini photos of a constable on his Toronto Police computer screen, a human rights tribunal heard Thursday.

Const. Heather McWilliam launched her human rights complaint in 2014 against the Toronto Police Service Board and another sergeant, Angelo Costa, alleging he tried to force his tongue into her mouth and made repeated lewd remarks about her.

Payton, called as a witness by the service at the tribunal, remembered McWilliam walked by his desk at 23 Division and spotted her vacation photos — taken from her friend’s Facebook page — as the wallpaper on his computer screen.

She testified earlier that Payton beckoned her to his desk and it wasn’t a chance encounter.

“Would you please mind getting that picture off your computer?” Payton quoted McWilliam as saying.

Payton said he complied and then deleted the image as well. He denied he had circulated the images around the division in 2011.

“I acknowledged I made a mistake and I accept full responsibility for that mistake,” said Payton. “It wasn’t exactly my best judgment that I’d used.”

For the bikini shot, Payton was penalized eight hours pay at a unit-level disciplinary hearing, which isn’t open to the public.

He denied that some other officers used porn star photos as their computer screen wallpaper.

Payton had worked at the division since October 2002, but only for a few months in the same platoon with McWilliam as she was transferred to another section.

He said they chatted because he was interested in hearing about her earlier experiences as an RCMP officer before she transferred to Toronto Police.

Payton also had a “duck bill selfie” shot of McWilliam on a cell phone, which he showed to Sgt. Brian Kay.

“It caught me as being a strange pose or expression, but I now realize this is a more common (facial pose). It made it memorable to me,” said Payton

McWilliam, now 35, has been on medical leave for PTSD since filing her human rights complaint.

McWilliam has alleged that she suffered continual sexual harassment due to the macho police culture permeating the service. She also claims she felt demeaned and embarrassed by others’ words and actions, from all levels at 23 Division for eight years.