Former Vancouver officer facing lawsuits alleging sexual exploitation

VANCOUVER — A former Vancouver police detective has been accused of kissing and groping two victims in a sex trafficking case while acting as their support worker.

Separate civil claims filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday allege James Fisher used his position of trust, power and authority over the women to sexually and psychologically exploit them.

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The lawsuits allege Fisher kissed, groped and imposed "unwanted touching of a sexual nature" on both women, including groping the genital area of one woman in a vehicle.

The allegations have not been proven in court, no statements of defence have been filed and Fisher could not be reached for comment.

Fisher was sentenced last year to 20 months jail after pleading guilty to breach of trust and sexual exploitation related to a teenage girl and a woman.

Before his arrest on those charges, Fisher was a 29-year decorated veteran of the force and member of its counter-exploitation unit, which investigates prostitution, criminal exploitation and child sex abuse.

Fisher led the investigation of pimp Reza Moazami, who was sentenced in 2015 to 23 years in prison for the sex trafficking of underage girls. Fisher also worked as a witness co-ordinator at some of Moazami's trials, the lawsuits say.

Jason Gratl, a lawyer for the two claimants whose identities are protected by a publication ban, said the women were both alleged child victims of Moazami who assisted police and testified at Moazami's trial.

The claimants met Fisher when they were underage and the alleged offences happened when they were young adults, Gratl said.

"Fisher threatened (the claimant) that if she told anyone about his abuse of trust then the prosecution of Moazami might be undermined and Moazami would go free. Fisher knew that (the claimant) was afraid that if Moazami was free, Moazami would find her and harm her," both claims allege.

Fisher violated policies and standards by spending time alone with the young women, obtaining financial and material benefits for them, contacting them with unusual frequency and cultivating an "inappropriate intimate relationship," the claims say.

Since their interactions with Fisher, the documents also say the women have experienced psychological trauma, substance abuse issues, loss of trust and confidence in police and government authorities, loss of self-esteem and loss of employment and educational opportunities.

"These plaintiffs are seeking damages due to injuries suffered at Fisher's hands. Not only from Fisher but as against all the institutional actors who should have protected the plaintiffs from Fisher," Gratl said.

Fisher's police superiors, the City of Vancouver and the provincial government are also named as defendants.

"The plaintiffs are resolute in their view that these civil claims should not be understood to be in any way supportive of Moazami, who in their view ought to remain in jail for a long, long time," Gratl said.

The Vancouver Police Department and the Attorney General's office declined to comment as the matter is before the courts.

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