It was supposed to be a great week of fun in the sun, a week on the beach in Cuba, get out of the March rains in Vancouver and a much-needed respite from the stresses of the streets in the Lower Mainland for two cops.
Mark Simms, 28, and close friend of 8 years, Jordan Long, 30, both have about six years law enforcement experience. Simms has been in Vancouver Police Department for over a year after spending years in Delta PD. Long spent years in Corrections before joining Port Moody Police Department about five years ago. They lead clean lives spending most of their time keeping physically fit and working.
The boys were sitting by the pool bar at their resort hotel having a few libations late in the afternoon they were approached by a female who was described as about 20 yrs old, 5’10” with a heavyset build. She started the conversation with the two holidaying officers by saying,”I just [expletive deleted] someone who looks like you.”
“I want more and I wouldn’t mind [expletive deleted] both of you,” said the female.
After a bit of conversation, and, I might add, not accepting her generous offer, the boys excused themselves and got up to go back to their room to have their usual pre-dinner nap. The girl followed. In the room Mark was laying on the bed nearest the washroom and Jordan went into the bathroom. The female followed and the boys were passive, not dismissing her.
Once in the room, the female undressed and threw herself onto the bed with Mark while Jordan went into the bathroom. The girl then got out of bed, entered the bathroom, grabbed Jordan by the neck and tried to pull his face toward her in an effort to kiss him. He didn’t want anything to do with her and pulled away and went out onto the balcony.
Upset by Jordan’s rejection, the girl then climbed back onto the bed with Mark and, being a young, healthy, single male, consensual activity ensued.
After the brief encounter, the female went out to the balcony and asked Jordan to help tie her bikini top. Jordan declined again, not wanting anything to do with her. Unlike Mark, he was not available.
The female left shortly thereafter and the boys laid down to have a nap. They were awakened by hotel security about 30 minutes later and taken downstairs where they heard “That’s them.” Police were then called and they had Jordan get his things.
Without any explanation or reason given, they were taken to a police station in Santa Marta. They were questioned separately in Spanish with only a Sunwing rep to translate, denied access to a lawyer and kept in cells for 7 days.
Jordan had managed to keep his cell phone secreted on him and when he had the opportunity he called the Canadian Embassy in Havana and his brother back in Vancouver. Meanwhile the girl was allowed to return to her home in Ontario. She did not give a formal statement where investigators could question her properly.
Under Cuban law she doesn’t have to testify. Defence and prosecution counsel are supposed to be present during such a statement interview which is the only chance an accused, via counsel, can challenge the accuser. This legal procedure was not adhered to.
The only evidence they have seen is from a female accuser’s written statement, in which she stated she was dragged from the pool, through the busy hotel lobby to the boy’s room, where she claims she was held down by the neck and shoulders and raped.
They have since learned the police did take a test for the blood alcohol level in the female and it was .12, well over the legal limit in Canada. The only problem was the test was taken almost as an afterthought – 17 hours later.
It is believed these 17 hours were unsupervised, demonstrating a severe lack of continuity between the alleged incident and the time the blood was taken. In other words there is no evidence of what her Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level was at the time of the events.
Considering that alcohol dissipates in the body at approximately .01% per hour, that would mean that, at the time of the events, she would have had a BAC of somewhere around .32 – .35 which might kill the average person.
So, something’s not right. The boys said she appeared sober at the time.
Now, I should add that the Cuban Police, Policía Nacional Revolucionaria or PNR, are primarily made up of conscripts. In Cuba there is conscription for everyone over 16 into either the army or the PNR. That could explain how the initial stages of this investigation were so screwed up. How bad?
There is no evidence the police even checked the lobby CCTV cameras which would have shown whether the female was in fact dragged through the lobby and up the stairs or not. There is no mention in the police file whether video was reviewed at all or even if it still exists.
In any ‘He said/She said’ investigation corroboration is key. The video would have been the ultimate corroboration supporting either the complainant or the boys. As it stands, what was left to the police was to interview staff to see if anyone could remember an incident as described by the girl. No one noticed any such thing.
Now you’d think that if the girl was telling the truth someone would have noticed two men dragging a girl, in broad daylight, some 500 metres from the pool, across the resort, through the lobby and up three flights of stairs to a room. No staff member saw any such thing nor did any other guest in the resort at the time report any such thing to hotel security.
Equally, once hotel security woke up the boys they were kept apart and questioned separately. They both gave a similar version of events which, in and of itself, is corroboration of their story. The police did not bother interview any of the female’s friends who were with her on the trip.
I should also add there was a medical exam of the girl that proved negative for any injuries to her body, signs of force or vaginal damage. The female had insisted that a condom not be used, however, Mark wore one anyway.
There is so much wrong with this case. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of competence in the PNR investigators. Government of Canada representatives have been in touch but thus far don’t seem to be doing much of anything.
A retired senior RCMP officer with 30 years experience in major crimes and serious sexual assaults has seen the evidence. He said, “I’m horrified at the lack of investigative safeguards and the quality of evidence.”
The boys are not allowed to leave the island nation and are staying at a lower-rent hotel and their funds are dwindling. They families have been helping but there is only so much they can do.
The pastor at the family’s church, Rev. Blake Field at the Wilson Heights United, has been to Cuba twice to see what he can do because he speaks Spanish. Based on his observations of the case file he is absolutely convinced the boys are innocent and has started a fundraiser to help them.
He tried to start a GoFundMe page but that was shut down almost out of the gate. He ran into the same problem I had trying to raise money for RCMP Cst. Kwesi Millington.
It’s been six months since these two young cops have been held prisoner on that Communist Island.
In Cuban law an investigation takes however long it takes and until it’s complete, there they will sit, unsure if they will face criminal charges.
Where the Canadian government is in all of this is unknown. Certainly, the Global Affairs Minister and the Public Safety Minister have been informed, but there’s no sign they have done anything.
On top of all that, the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner is saying they will face an investigation by their office should they be allowed to come back to Vancouver anytime soon. The boys said months ago they would not only welcome but encourage a fair and proper Canadian investigation they are certain will clear their names.
This whole thing stinks. At every level. I will keep tabs on this case and report as things proceed.