Outgoing mayor, police chief speak out on decades old handling of Coun. Sean Chu’s discreditable conduct investigation

There's mounting pressure on Coun. Sean Chu to resign from his Ward 4 seat after his admission of having a sexual encounter with a teenager while serving as a Calgary police officer 24 years ago recently surfaced.

The incumbent retained his seat in Monday's election by just 52 votes, prompting a recount request by runner-up DJ Kelly.

On Wednesday, CTV News door knocked at the home of Chu, who could be seen inside but did not answer. 

Phone calls to Chu also went unanswered. 

During a pandemic briefing on Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney and Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver agreed that if recent reports are true and proven correct, it would be the "honourable thing to step aside."

Kenney added Chu should present proof of his denial, but the province is not able to force out an elected official at the city level.

Several others are now speaking out and responding.

UCP MLA Leela Aheer tweeted that Chu should step down.

Sean! Step down!The 16 year old girl you assaulted while you were on duty—in a position of authority has carried this for 24 years. Those are the facts. #stepdown

— Leela Sharon Aheer (@LeelaAheer) October 20, 2021

Janis Irwin, the NDP Opposition Status of Women Critic, wrote an open letter to the province calling for an inquiry. "Calgarians deserve answers for this type of unacceptable conduct from a newly elected member of their city council."

It is unconscionable that Sean Chu be allowed to sit as a Calgary city councillor. The allegations against him are very serious. We are demanding that Minister @RicMcIver immediately order an inquiry into this matter. There is no debate. Do the right thing. Now. #ableg #yyccc pic.twitter.com/PykcMg0v5J

— Janis Irwin (@JanisIrwin) October 19, 2021

Kourtney Branagan, elected to represent Ward 11, also took to social media, stating in a thread that she herself is a victim of assault, and "cannot be quiet," before adding, "We cannot send a signal to the women of this city that those in leadership positions who are guilty of offences against women and minors are allowed to hold power."

Ward 1’s Sonya Sharp told CTV “these are serious allegations and Mr. Chu needs to the right thing and step down.”

Sharp added that she would like to see the integrity commissioner look into the allegations in greater detail on the public’s behalf. 

Ward 6’s Richard Pootmans said he would like to see Chu step down. 

“I would recommend that Cllr. Chu step aside pending an investigation,” he said. 

Council Andre Chabot told CTV News that this type of behaviour is unacceptable but added that he didn’t have all the specific details  to say unequivocally that Chu should step down. He added that if the details are true, absolutely Sean (Chu) should step aside.

There was no statement from Dan McLean in Ward 13, while incoming Ward 7 councillor Terry Wong said he was not ready to comment just yet as he was attending to unrelated personal matters.

'IT'S SIMPLE. HE MUST STEP DOWN': NENSHI

Mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek said once she takes office she will direct the new council to take immediate action on Chu, but says he should resign.

Outgoing mayor Naheed Nenshi tweeted late Wednesday afternoon that "it's simple. He must step down. If he does not, the provincial government must act using powers under the Municipal Government Act to remove him."

Nenshi also responded to comments that the incident took place a long time ago.

"And no, this is not just about 'stuff that happened a long time ago,' he said. "It's about what he said when the first story came out last week, and what voters did not know when they voted."

POLICE CHIEF STATEMENT

Wednesday evening, police chief Mark Neufeld issued a statement regarding the incident, which he hadn't been aware of until recently.

"Based on what I know at this time, I can say that the allegations were taken seriously and followed the process that was in place at that time," he said. "This in no way absolves Mr. Chu of the deep disappointment his actions hold.

"In relation to incidents in 1997 involving a minor, a criminal investigation was conducted by experts in the sex crimes unit and was passed to an external crown who determined charges were not recommended. Given the accused was a police officer, he was also subject to further investigation under the Police Act and was found guilty of discreditable conduct."

"This was followed by reviews by external oversight including the Law Enforcement Review Board and the Alberta Court of Appeal. As our citizen oversight body, the Calgary Police Commission was also apprised of this incident at the time. "

"The CPS has not had any involvement in court proceedings or investigations on this matter sine 2007."

Neufeld also referenced a second, unspecified incident that took place in 2008, when Chu was on personal, unpaid leave from the police service.

That 2008 incident was investigated by the Crown in Edmonton, and no charges were laid.

Neufeld added that the circumstances under which the 1997 were investigated were different than if the incident took place in 2021.

"I want to be clear; since this incident occurred our processes have evolved. If this were to happen today, the province would be notified via the Director of Law Enforcement. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team would then take on an independent investigation."

SUNDAY PROTEST PLANNED

A Twitter account has been created to organize a protest outside City Hall for Sunday at noon, posting that Chu's indiscretions make him not fit to serve.

One of the organizers Natasha Kornak said that Chu misled Calgarians, asking that he resign.

“We would also like to see an official inquiry into how this and what happened here,” she said. 

“Why was he only supplied with a letter of reprimand and why did this not follow him into the public sphere?”

Kornak believes Chu’s character has been tarnished by not publicly disclosing the information when he first ran for city council in 2013. 

“This doesn’t start and end with Sean Chu,” she said. 

“There have been people before Sean Chu that have gotten away with this sort of thing. We want to make sure there is no one after Sean Chu who can get away with this horrendous behaviour.”

According to the transcript of a disciplinary hearing, it was alleged that "on or about Aug. 12, 1997, Const. Chu became intimately involved with the young person who was 16 years old at the time," and she had met him, "while he was on duty, in uniform, and in a position of authority."

Chu was 34 years old at the time and admitted to "caressing" the girl on the leg in a public restaurant while in uniform.

He told the hearing he "participated in consensual sexual foreplay" with the girl in the living room of his home while he was off-duty and not in uniform.

No criminal charges were laid but, according to two Law Enforcement Review Board (LERB) decisions, Chu was investigated by CPS’ professional standards section for allegedly bringing the girl into his home in those early morning hours 24 years ago, and for alleged misconduct in his actions with the girl.

The documents also reveal that the teen alleged Chu sexually assaulted her.

Chu, who served as a member of CPS from 1992 to 2013, was charged with two counts of discreditable conduct and was convicted of one count.

The internal documents state that the conviction was in relation to him touching the girl's leg. He was given a letter of reprimand on his CPS file for five years, which expired in 2008.

In an earlier statement to CTV, Chu said that during the investigation he underwent a polygraph test, at his request, which confirmed his account. He says, "It is not unusual for police officers to be subject of unsubstantiated complaints, but a complete and thorough process was conducted which found this complaint to be without merit.”

Chu did speak with the Western Standard on Tuesday about the 1997 incident. 

‘I'm sorry, I didn't mean any harm,” he told the online publication.

Chu also admitted in that interview the pair started kissing and hugging, along with some touching underneath clothes.

Calgary city councillor statements on Sean Chu:

Ward 1: Sonya Sharp

"These are serious allegations and Mr. Chu needs to do the right thing and step down. The Integrity Commissioner should be looking into this in greater detail on behalf of the public."

Ward 2: Jennifer Wyness

"Police, like politicians, hold positions of authority and trust. Women have fought hard for representation and a voice. The victim here was a 16 year old girl who was taken advantage of by and adult police officer in a position of public trust. The young woman fought for 24 years against a system actively silencing her voice. I commend this woman’s strength in the face of systemic oppression.

"Sean Chu has a decision to make on whether to resign or not. We are still waiting on a recount, and investigation by the province. Council has limited authority in this circumstance.

"Where council does have authority is over the behaviour of CPS, and an investigation into why the abuser had more rights than the victim should occur."

Ward 3: Jasmine Mian

"I agree with my colleagues that Sean Chu needs to do the right thing by stepping down."

Ward 4: Sean Chu

Has not provided comment

Ward 5: Raj Dhaliwal

"Electors deserve transparency from the people that are seeking to represent them. The seriousness of these allegations merits inquiry and consequence. I will second this," he tweeted in support of a statement from Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra.

Ward 6: Richard Pootmans

"I would recommend that Cllr Chu step aside pending an investigation."

Ward 7: Terry Wong

Terry Wong issued a statement Wednesday, calling for an investigation by Alberta Justice.

"We need transparency and a full accounting of exactly what transpired 24 years ago. I have reviewed the statements made through both mainstream and social media. If the allegations are true, Councillor-elect Sean Chu must step away from office before the swearing ceremony on Monday, Oct 25," it read.

"This will allow the second-place candidate, DJ Kelly, to be sworn in as the Ward 4 city councillor that day. Ward 4 residents will have immediate representation on city council. Calgarians will be spared the cost of a by-election. I took the time to respond with comments because I wanted t o consult with my community.

"Ward 7 is progressive and needs leaders who provide ‘Safe Communities’. As someone who “listens and learns before leading” I wanted to ensure that I was taking the right approach to this very serious issue."

Ward 8: Courtney Walcott

"I stand beside Jyoti Gondek on this."

Ward 9: Gian-Carlo Carra

I stand with Mayor-Elect @JyotiGondek on this issue. https://t.co/Ou8v58dcm6

— Gian-Carlo Carra (@gccarra) October 19, 2021

Ward 10: Andre Chabot

Council Andre Chabot told CTV News that this type of behaviour is unacceptable but added that he didn’t have all the specific details  to say unequivocally that Chu should step down. He added that if the details are true, absolutely Sean (Chu) should step aside.

Ward 11: Kourtney Branagan

Kourtney Branagan, elected to represent Ward 11, also took to social media, stating in a thread that she herself is a victim of assault, and "cannot be quiet," before adding, "We cannot send a signal to the women of this city that those in leadership positions who are guilty of offences against women and minors are allowed to hold power."

1/ I was elected to to #yyccc to use my voice. To stand up and stand against the systems which hold us back.

I am a victim of assault. I am the parent of girls. I and other women deserve a safe and respectful workplace.

My values lead me and I cannot be quiet.

RE: Chu

— Kourtney Branagan (@KourtBranagan) October 20, 2021

Ward 12: Evan Spencer

I stand with the victim. Jyoti can count on my support should she turn to council to take action.

— Evan Spencer (@Spencerfor12) October 19, 2021

Ward 13: Dan McLean

"I find the entire situation regarding Councilor Chu deeply troubling. It seemed prudent to talk with with Mr Chu before commenting but I have yet to hear back. I am hopeful that he will speak out soon and make the right decision," he posted on social media early Thursday. In a further statement to CTV Calgary, McLean stated, "If all the allegations are true then I do believe he should (resign)."

Ward 14: Peter Demong

2/2 Sean Chu has always maintained he is a man of honour. If indeed this is the case, and unless further information comes forward that exonerates him, he should do the right thing and resign. @sherman_shank @Clarinetistry @markCSC @BBeavan

— Peter Demong (@peterdemong) October 20, 2021