An Ottawa constable who divulged police information to a sexual assault complainant he once pursued for a threesome has pleaded guilty to misconduct, but a plea deal means he won't lose his job.
Const. Troy Forgie pleaded guilty Wednesday to insubordination, breach of confidence and discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act.
A private week-long disciplinary hearing had been scheduled to start Monday but was instead rescheduled as a three-day, public sentencing hearing set to last the rest of the week.
In exchange for the guilty pleas, the service withdrew a second count of discreditable conduct, which alleged Forgie viewed "sexual photographs and videos" while on duty.
The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) had been seeking to fire the officer, but abandoned that plan. The force is now seeking a two-year demotion, while Forgie's defence lawyer Connie D'Angelo is arguing for 20 days of forfeited pay.
OPS alleged database, privacy breaches
In August 2020, a woman messaged Forgie on Facebook asking for help getting away from her abusive boyfriend, police prosecutor Vanessa Stewart told the hearing Wednesday as she read out an agreed statement of facts.
Forgie wasn't on duty, Stewart said, but he messaged the woman back with a plan to contact him when her boyfriend left the residence.
The officer then called the patrol staff sergeant's desk and had police respond.
The partner assault unit took on the case and eventually charged the woman's ex-boyfriend with assault and sexual assault — charges that remain before the courts. In the course of that investigation, the woman consented to have police download the contents of her cellphone.
The lead detective on the partner assault file discovered possible misconduct in Forgie's text exchanges with the woman and sent what she found up the chain of command.
At the woman's request, Forgie conducted multiple searches months after the woman's original plea for help, Stewart said. He looked the file up in several databases, accessed working drafts of reports, and searched for the conditions of new charges against her ex-boyfriend.
Are you able to look it up or can you get in trouble for that? It's killing me because I'm scared … Anyways, you're the only cop I know lol so I just thought I'd ask you. - Facebook message from woman to Forgie
Professional standards detectives eventually confronted him with evidence of "an inappropriate relationship with a victim of a criminal offence and improper disclosure of police information to that victim in an ongoing criminal investigation," Stewart said.
It was only then, she added, that Forgie acknowledged he even knew her.
Forgie told police he looked up the suspect and the police file after the woman messaged him on Facebook.
"Hey, remember how I was so frustrated with the system because my ex who I charged with sexual assault is allowed out, isn't monitored and can pretty much do what he wants?" her message read. "Well, he has been around my work and yesterday I get a phone call telling me he has been arrested for an unrelated incident but they don't tell me for what to be aware. How is it not my business to know what's going on?"
"Are you able to look it up or can you get in trouble for that? It's killing me because I'm scared … Anyways, you're the only cop I know lol so I just thought I'd ask you."
Agreed to conduct search
Forgie agreed to do it and told the woman to remind him on a Monday, when he was back at work as a school resource officer and had database access.
He performed unauthorized queries of both the local and national police databases between Dec. 14, 2020 and Jan. 12, 2021, Stewart said.
Forgie eventually told the woman her ex-boyfriend was still in custody on the unrelated charge and shared the nature of the alleged offence.
"He is a piece of shit," Forgie wrote to the woman in messages. He also told her to call police whenever the man contacted her. "Don't let him scare you, I'll deal with him," he wrote.
The prosecution filed a series of text messages between Forgie and the woman that were previously alleged to have included sexual photographs and videos that Forgie allegedly viewed while on duty. Their contents were not read aloud at the hearing.
Forgie was suspended with pay as a school resource officer in March 2021. That suspension ended earlier this year.
'I'm accountable for my actions'
After his guilty plea, Forgie told the hearing he accepts "full responsibility for the charges."
"I fully understand that I'm accountable for my actions and how they affect the reputation of the Ottawa Police Service," Forgie said.
He told the hearing he'd never met the woman in person, but had earlier communicated with her on a social media app. According to sources, Forgie was previously pursuing the woman sexually and was talking with her on the app for the purpose of setting up a threesome.
Forgie said when the woman contacted him on Facebook to first ask for his help, he didn't even know her full name.
"It was only a few hours later that I realized she was the girl I had spoken to several months earlier."
The media coverage related to this file was humiliating and was sent to my children by their friends over social media. - Const. Troy Forgie
Forgie said they later crossed paths in a parking lot, so he messaged her to see how she was doing.
He said he "provided her the least amount of information" he could to "give her peace of mind when she was scared," and he was sympathetic to a victim of sexual assault who was navigating a maze to get simple answers.
He said he would use the disciplinary sanction against him as a learning opportunity to try and advocate for a dedicated phone line to help victims of crime.
Forgie told the hearing he has already faced consequences in his personal life as a result of media coverage of his misconduct.
"My actions which led to these charges put stress on my family in an already difficult year," Forgie said. "The media coverage related to this file was humiliating and was sent to my children by their friends over social media."
He was temporarily removed from his baseball coaching job when a news article was sent around the organization and he said his wife's health was affected.
But Stewart argued Forgie "used his position as a police officer to insert himself in a serious sexual assault investigation" and only had himself to blame for the financial and personal consequences he's facing.
Forgie, Stewart said, continued communicating with the woman on Snapchat even after he was notified of the misconduct complaint against him.
The hearing continues.