Paul Culver’s gay past

It’s been 18 years since prosecutor Paul Culver pulled on a pair of surgical gloves to present butt plugs and leather g-strings to make his case in court.

Culver offered up that proud moment during the 1981 Barracks’ trial, when the Crown attorney successfully stuck two men with bawdy house charges.

It was one of the raids which presaged the vicious police assault on all of Toronto’s bathhouses, resulting in hundreds of arrests and thousands of dollars in property damage.

At the time, Culver insisted the ordeal was just another bawdy house trial, and begged that the court be wary of attempts to turn it into a political case.

Asked by The Body Politic magazine if more raids were likely, Culver said: “The police have a precedent now, and it wouldn’t surprise me.”

Culver “gingerly” presented naughty magazines to court in the Barracks case — along with a number of dildos, whips, chains and a cricket bat. There were more than 80 items in all.

Then Culver tried — unsuccessfully, the judge refused to allow it — to read all 2,500 names on the Barracks’ membership list into the public record.

Now 51 with 24 years as a prosecutor, Culver has worked his way to the head Crown’s job.

He’s said to oversee some 200,000 criminal cases annually.

Considered a premiere prosecutor, he more recently scored a murder conviction for schizophrenic Herbert Cheong in the death of Charlene Minkowski, a stranger pushed in front of a train.

Despite Cheong’s lengthy history of mental illness, Culver maintained that Cheong deserved a lengthy jail sentence.

Cheong was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment without any chance of parole for 15 years.

This spring, The Toronto Star deemed Culver a candidate to replace outgoing police chief David Boothby. The paper reported that Culver “has gained tremendous respect from police, but it might be a hard sell to see him filling Boothby’s shoes, with sources saying a successor is more likely to come from the force itself.”

Although the word on the street suggests that Culver is no longer as zealous in his prosecutions of homosexuals, he’s had an interesting youth.

Also back in 1981, Culver went up against teacher Don Franco, arguing that the buying of personals ad for sex partners turned his home into a public place – and a bawdy house to boot.

All this at a time when gay men were regularly vilified in the press. The publicity eventually forced Franco to resign from his job.

Many were aghast at the charge.

“Are you going to argue that the accused’s home is a public place?” Provincial Court Judge Maurice Charles queried Culver at the time.

According to The Body Politic, Culver hesitated, then said, “Under the circumstances, yes, your honour.”

Judge Charles leaned forward, then asked, “Are you serious, Mr Culver?”


Franco was the Toronto teacher who reported that a police officer was phoning school boards to let them know that certain teachers had been nabbed in the Barracks raid. A sergeant was reprimanded.

Days later, an officer entered Franco’s home pretending to be a gay man who had answered a classified ad Franco ran regularly.

Franco was acquitted.

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