Shriner bash a crime?
Police probe into behaviour may take 3 months
Wednesday, January 31, 2001
By CARY CASTAGNA, STAFF REPORTER
The Khartum Shriners' problems may have only just begun.
Potentate Bill Kubik said a Winnipeg Police Service investigation into the disbanded Motor Patrol Unit's highly publicized "Gentlemen's Dinner" last Thursday could drag on for more than three months.
"Hopefully not, but their could be possible criminal charges," Kubik added.
And don't expect any Shriners from the disgraced unit to have their memberships revoked -- at least not right away.
Imperial Potentate Robert Turnipseed, who has the final decision on who gets booted from the international fraternity of 525,000 men, said he's waiting for a full report from Kubik before he makes a judgment.
"The buck stops with me, yes," Turnipseed said yesterday morning from his home in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. "But I don't know the seriousness of it and how far it has gone until I read the report. Obviously, if the newspaper reports are true, it's a very disturbing situation."
The $75-a-plate, invitation-only night out -- hosted by the Shriners' 50-member motor patrol at the Garden City Canad Inn -- featured strippers allegedly performing sexual acts with guests.
Following a four-hour meeting Monday night at the Wilkes Avenue Shrine Temple, Kubik revoked the motor patrol's charter and seized its bank account.
"This money will not be used for the children's hospital or Shrine patient transportation," the local chapter's CEO said. "I really have no idea what money they raised and I'm really not interested because we will not accept it as a charitable fund-raiser."
Besides the police investigation, Kubik is also awaiting final reports from the Garden City Canad Inn and the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission.
And the Manitoba Human Rights Commission announced yesterday that it will also be investigating possible violations of the Human Rights Code as complainants step forward.
"It's hard to imagine how these participants reconcile the reported activities with their roles as fathers, husbands, brothers and neighbours," commission chairman Ken Filkow said in a statement. "Winnipeg is, above all, a community and many of the participants, it would appear, were well known to each other's families."
In the face of the ongoing investigations, the embarrassed Shriners hope to rebuild their reputation.
"I've been a Shriner for 20 years and I've never heard of anything like this," Mike Andrews, director of public relations, said in a telephone interview from the Shriners' headquarters in Tampa, Fla.
"That's the sad thing. It only takes a handful of people to give an organization or company a black eye. We do so much good work for so many children. The majority of our Shriners are outstanding citizens. This is not representative of the entire organization."