Calgary police offer to remove records of some charged in 2002 Goliath’s Bathhouse raid

The Calgary Police Service is offering to expunge fingerprints and photographs of those who had their charges stayed or withdrawn 20 years after the Goliath’s Bathhouse raid.

CPS officers raided Goliath’s Bathhouse downtown on Dec. 12, 2002, and charged dozens of men for being patrons of a common bawdy house (brothel) under the Criminal Code of Canada. The owners of Goliath’s Bathhouse were also charged for keeping a common bawdy house under the Criminal Code, according to the Calgary Gay History Project.

Bathhouses are considered safe havens for LGBTQ2S+ people because they allow people, especially men who have sex with men, who may not be out to meet others and explore their sexuality. It often comes with a membership fee and is locked to maintain a degree of privacy.

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The Goliath’s Bathhouse raid further cemented distrust towards police in the LGBTQ2S+ community at a time when the service was trying to mend relationships with queer and trans Calgarians. Bathhouse raids were common in the 1980s, so the 2002 raid shocked and traumatized many LGBTQ2S+ Calgarians.

In a news release on Monday morning, CPS Chief Mark Neufeld said the service acknowledged the trauma the bathhouse raid caused. Neufeld also said the CPS is working towards reconciliation with Calgary’s LGBTQ2S+ community but said the service “stands by the investigation.”

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“Acknowledging the role our Service has played in causing trauma to Calgarians with diverse gender identities, gender expressions and sexual orientations is a way to demonstrate to the community that we have evolved as an organization and that we are listening to the concerns they have raised – even those concerns that are based on past experiences,” Neufeld said in a statement.

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“The goal of this acknowledgement is to share with the community that when we look back, there are things we would do differently if given the chance to do them again today.”

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Neufeld’s acknowledgement comes after former chief Roger Chaffin publicly apologized for the raid in 2018. The apology had an immense impact on Calgary’s LGBTQ2S+ community, but many say a lot of damage was done.

“While a legitimate and professional investigation, the Goliath’s Bathhouse case in 2002 was a flashpoint for many in the LGBTQ2S+ community and shaped the views of many in Calgary’s gender and sexually diverse community,” the CPS news release on Monday read.

“When we looked back at this event, it was clear that the Service would handle the same situation very differently today. The Service stands by the investigation, but would be far more engaged with the community to minimize the impacts if a similar investigation were conducted today.”

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