London police probe into trans activist's groping claim finds no evidence of misconduct

An internal London police investigation into a transgender activist’s allegation an officer groped her during her 2022 arrest found no evidence of misconduct, according to a new report going to the city’s police board Thursday

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An internal London police investigation into a transgender activist’s allegation an officer groped her during her 2022 arrest found no evidence of misconduct, according to a new report going to the city’s police board Thursday.

London police arrested Clara Sorrenti, a popular live-streamer who goes by the name Keffels, on Aug. 5, 2022, during a raid on her home after emails threatening to go on a shooting spree at city hall were sent falsely under her name.

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Investigators eventually cleared Sorrenti of any wrongdoing and determined she was a victim of swatting, a term used for making a false police report, often involving a weapon, in an effort to get police to raid someone’s home.

Following her arrest, Sorrenti complained police used her so-called dead name – the male name changed when she transitioned to female a decade ago – during her 11-hour detainment and scrawled it across property bags returned to her when she was released.

Sorrenti, 29, launched an Ontario human rights complaint against London police in the spring, seeking $125,000 in damages for injury to her dignity, loss of income and special damages.

In the claim, Sorrenti alleged a female officer pressed her hand against her breast during her arrest and said, “Yep, it’s a she.”

London police learned about the sexual assault allegation from a media report on April 23 and notified Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), according to the report deputy chief Paul Bastien will present Thursday.

SIU director Joesph Martino notified London police on Aug. 22 that there were no reasonable grounds to proceed with a criminal charge and the case was closed. The London police professional standards branch launched an internal probe into the conduct of the officer, along with related policies and services, the report says.

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“That investigation yielded no evidence of misconduct and determined that the officer adhered with relevant LPS procedures,” the two-page report says.

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An SIU spokesperson confirmed its investigation was closed without charges and the watchdog opted not to make its report public after consulting with the complainant.

“Since the release of information related to investigations of sexual assault allegations is always associated with a risk of further deterring what is an under-reported crime and undermining the heightened privacy interests of the involved parties, most emphatically, the complainants, the SIU director has decided to withhold publication of the director’s report,” spokesperson Monica Hudon wrote in an email.

A copy of the report was provided to the complainant, the subject officer, witness officers and the Attorney General, as is required under the law, Hudon said.

Lawyer Justin Anisman, who is representing Sorrenti in the human rights case, declined to comment on the internal London police and SIU investigations.

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“We are unable to comment other than to say that we will continue to be seeking justice before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal,” Anisman said in a statement.

Sorrenti’s swatting made international headlines and shed light on the campaign of harassment against her.

Users on Kiwifarms.net had posted her home address and other personal information — a harassment technique known as doxing — and created a thread dedicated to the prominent activist that generated hundreds of daily posts. Fearing for her safety after the swatting incident, Sorrenti checked in to a London hotel, but that location also was posted to Kiwi Farms, prompting her to flee to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Sorrenti launched a campaign urging web service providers to stop working with Kiwi Farms, drawing international media coverage and support from a former top FBI official, who warned of the website’s potential domestic terrorism threat. Kiwi Farms went offline after Cloudflare, the company that provided security services to the website, dropped it as a customer, citing “an immediate threat to human life.”

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London police launched a criminal investigation into the swatting incident – no charges have been laid in the case – and an internal review that found all officers involved acted appropriately based on the information they had at the time.

As a result of the review, London police now use a system that flags addresses or individuals targeted in previous swatting incidents, information that will be available to police officers across Canada through a database. The review also led to updated procedures including making name changes within the police records-management system to ensure inclusivity and respect to transgender persons, as well as caring for transgender people while in custody.

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