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Toronto Chief:  'Mistakes Were Made'

From affiliate

(Toronto)  Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantion has admitted mistakes were made in the Project Guardian crackdown on child pornography.

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Project Guardian was begun by Fantino while he was chief of the London Ontario force.  After dozens of arrests of gays for alleged possession and manufacture of kiddie porn, most of the charges were thrown out of court for lack of evidence.  Activists in London and other cities across Ontario accused the chief of conducting a witch hunt against the gay community.

Now chief of Canada's biggest police force, Fantino has tried to distance himself from Project Guardian.  Shortly after he was named to the Toronto job in January he attended a public meeting in the Gay Village but refused to answer questions about his role in the arrests and his refusal to meet with members of London's gay community.

Since then Fantino has attempted to build bridges to Toronto's quarter-million gay community.

He began with a quiet sit down with several business leaders in the community.  Then, during Pride Week he held a reception at Sailor on Church street.  As a broad group of gays and lesbians shook his hand and shared a drink, the questions about Project Guardian remained.

Today, for the first time, Fantino met with members of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario to discuss the raids and arrests.  For several years Fantino had refused to meet with CLGRO, the leading activist group in the province.

The meeting at Police Headquarters was called cordial by both sides.

CLGRO's Nick Mule told following the meeting they considered it a success in just getting to the talking stage with the chief.

Mule said the chief now seems to realize Project Guardian will not go away.  Mule said the four CLGRO members present (two of them from CLGRO London) were surprised to hear Fantino say "it was not a perfect case.  Mistakes were made."  Mule says the chief went on to say though, that some things were done right.  And, Mule says the chief told the meeting he had learned a lot and he thought the gay community had, too.

Mule told the chief seemed defensive about his role in Project Guardian.  When asked if it appeared Fantino's attitude toward the gay community had changed, Mule said "we'll have to wait and see."

Mule said he was encouraged the chief had agreed to the meeting and was following up on a promise made in January when he met with the gay community that he would create a gay liason committee.